THE Omba Arts Trust, in collaboration with the National Arts Gallery of Namibia (NAGN), officially opened the ‘Tsamma Time’ exhibition on 24 August, with support from the Commonwealth Foundation. The exhibition showcases 105 artworks created by 29 artists from Ju/’Hoansi resettlement farms in the Omaheke region of Namibia, namely Skoonheid and Donkerbos-Sonneblom.
PLANTING THE TSAMMA
The initiative arose as a response to Covid-19 measures which left a lot of San without money, as tourists were locked out of Namibia.
This harsh reality resonates with other aspects of the life of San people in the country, such as the pressing need for dignified housing and sustainable employment, which remain unmet for many of San communities. This was highlighted in the curatorial text of the exhibition.
“Through their art, they express dreams and hopes of change, and a determination to overcome the obstacles that constrain their aspirations,” noted the curatorial text.
The exhibition does not only refer to the time the communities start to produce visible fruit, but simultaneously, it serves as a creative expression in response to the challenges that these marginalised communities face in Namibia.
The night was described as the perfect synergy of the two San communities by founding director of the Omba Arts Trust Karin le Roux.
“What I love is that we have been working with these communities for 15 years because in Donkerbos-Sonneblom they make ostrich eggshell beads and at Skoonheid they make the jewellery from those beads. Tonight is the first time we brought, through the art, the communities together. I think that’s a wonderful synergy,” said Le Roux.
The two communities, that are around 250 kilometres apart, brought together under one roof, a group of art admirers and collectors – all celebrating their creativity.
OLD ARTISTS, NEW TECHNIQUES
The exhibition also includes pieces from 10 familiar artists that contributed to the first-ever comprehensive contemporary San art exhibition, to be shown in the NAGN and titled ‘Roots Of The First Tree’ in 2019.
The 2019 works featured oil paintings, watercolours, lino prints, and sculptures made by Ju/’Hoansi, !Xung and Hailom artists from resettlement farms.
Le Roux said ‘Roots Of The First Tree’ was their first project, while ‘Tsamma Time’ is the second.
Since 2019, an additional 19 new artists from the San resettlement farms have joined the ‘Tsamma Time’ collection, which also includes unseen work from the previous workshop.
This was achieved with workshop facilitations run by Catharina Scheepers, an artist who has for years collaborated with San artists in South Africa and Botswana. Her broad experience in fieldwork, her input on ideas and her sharing of new techniques transformed what would have been normal daily activities and life experiences into 105 contemporary San artworks.
NAGN director Michelle van Wyk noted in her keynote speech that the exhibition and the theme coincide beautifully with the warmer summer days looming around the corner. She also highlighted that the art showcases daily encounters that are rarely documented.
“In my ritual walkabout prior to the opening, the gentle and tender works that you see before you this evening reminded me of a deep quiet understanding of a multitude of things we observe daily and so seldom document,” she said.
The evening ended on a very lively and positive note, particularly for the artists, as eight of the 105 paintings on display were reserved for possible purchase on the first night alone.
The exhibition is expected to run until 23 September, giving the public time to visit the gallery and collectively celebrate the talented artists who are harnessing their creativity to redefine their destinies. – unWrap.online