Dr Marion Arnold




School of the Arts, Loughborough University, United Kingdom


Having lectured in South Africa for twenty years, I moved to the United Kingdom in 2000 where I teach in the School of the Arts, Loughborough University. As Coordinator of the Postgraduate Research Programme, I support practice-based doctoral research as an innovative route to integrating interdisciplinary research with an expanded consciousness of art practice. My research focuses on colonial and postcolonial art. My interest in 19th-century representations of the African landscape informed The Life and Work of Thomas Baines (1995, co-authored with Jane Carruthers). My focus on women artists yielded publications including Irma Stern: A Feast for the Eyes (1995), Women and Art in South Africa (1996) and Between Union and Liberation. Women Artists in South Africa 1910-1994, (2005, co-edited with Brenda Schmahmann). I am currently conducting research on The Caversham Press in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  This work unites my on-going commitment to studying South Africa women artists, many of whom have worked at Caversham, my interest in drawing and printmaking, which enables Caversham to design workshops to empower the local Zulu community through visual creativity, and my activities as a practising artist. I believe that in the artworld, process, product and politics cannot be prised apart.


The Imprint of South Africa: Narratives by Some Black Women Printmakers at the Caversham Press


The divisions and fractures of an unjust society are imprinted on South Africa's visual culture and the legacy of the nation's troubled history still informs art imagery. The Caversham Press in KwaZulu-Natal, founded in 1985 by Malcolm Christian, has served different groups of South African artist-printmakers. Initially the majority of prints were produced by established artists, mainly white, who recognised the value of creating handmade, editioned works which sustained their central creative concerns. Now the Press publishes work by many black artists, mostly Zulu-speaking, while the CreACTive' Centres and the Caversham Centre for Artists and Writers, contribute to local visual education and empowerment programmes. Under apartheid, black women suffered from racial discrimination and were also subject to the patriarchal structures of the South African state and their own ethnic cultures. After 1994, in the post-apartheid era, black women artists began to contribute significantly to the national art scene.  This paper discusses Caversham printmakers, focusing on work by Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi (b.1943) and Gabisile Nkosi (1974 - 2008). Analysing their prints, I discuss representations of the self formed in social relations, and the expression of South Africa life articulated by ethnicity, gender, and urban/rural lifestyles.  Sebidi, who is Tswana-speaking and Nkosi, who was IsiZulu, construct narratives which comment on womanhood under apartheid and in post-apartheid South Africa. They articulate complex narrative responses to personal circumstances, established social norms and values, and modern politics.They also express responses to the domestic violence and abuse of women which continue to characterise the present. Their themes and stories, rendered from different generational perspectives, contribute to the wider story of the Caversham Press and its remarkable transcultural archive, which documents a country negotiating its postcolonial national identity while acknowledging its internal ethnic divisions.


Tuesday 27 September


3:30pm - 5.00pm






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