My first visit to the KZNSA Art Gallery was way back during university days, when we made our way there from Howard Collage, the then UND Campus. I remember being impressed by the set up – the coffee shop is set on a staircase, with tables on each step. And there was an art gallery inside too. Wow. How cool was this place.
Fast forward (what feels like a lifetime), and despite infrequent visits over the years I find myself visiting the coffee shop/gallery a lot more this year. Management has undergone some spring cleaning bringing renewed focus and passion to the organization, and it shows. The gallery has new showings every three weeks, usually on a Tuesday night, making it a dynamic and exciting space.
One of my favorite events this year was a parallel project of the UIA Architecture Conference wherein the gallery, the Durban Centre of Photography (‘DCP’) and French jazz band OZMA collaborated for a night of photography and live French music at the Rivertown Beer Hall. A group of local photographers photographed walking through Durban city centre (from Cato Manor down to the beach) over two years and put them together to create a movie with a live musical soundtrack. It was amazing to think such an event was in Durban.
The photo concert traveled to Johannesburg as well, and the photos themselves were exhibited in Cape Town in October during Month of Photography 06.
Another highlight was the Durban International Film Festival (‘DIFF’) selecting the gallery as one of its screening venues for the film festival. DIFF is a big deal on Durban calendars, so this was quite an accomplishment to be proud of. Alas, I never made it there as DIFF was during Ramadaan (a month of fasting for Muslims), but there’s always next year!
Hence it’s no wonder, KZN SA Gallery cracked the nod in the CNN article http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/15/travel/durban-south-africa/, which heralded Durban as South Africa’s ‘cool’ city. I agree as honestly (& not because I’m a Durbanite) there’s so much going on in Durbs lately, it’s difficult to keep up.
I popped by the gallery again today as I’d heard the annual BUZZART fair has started. BUZZART is an initiative over the festive season wherein the gallery is transformed into a local-only store featuring all South African and mostly KZN designers, crafters and artists. I took a few photos of the goods, which caters to a diverse range of tastes. There’s everything from stationery, ceramics, gardening, designer clothing (such as Amanda Laird Cherry and Jane Sews), handbags, shoes, art, photography, etc, etc.
You may recognize works by Wes van Eeden, he who designed the wall mural up at the new Boiler Room Cafe, among many other local artists with works for sale.
While I was there I met a local designer, Dumi, whose label ‘Elppag denim’ is new on the scene. It’s Dumi’s first time at BUZZART and he’s doing well – he (like the other designers) will bring in new stock almost every week, and will spend some time in the gallery making some of his designs ‘live’ for the shoppers to see.
Oh and how can I forget the food – as part of the revamp this year, the Arts Cafe coffee shop has a new menu, and I can vouch for the spinach quiche and chocolate brownie.
I still mean to make time for coffee and a book on those tables, found on the stairs..
You can find the gallery at 166 Bulwer Road – it’s open Tuesday to Sundays through the festive season, 9am to 5pm weekdays, with slightly shorter hours on weekends and public holidays. Call them on 031 2771705 for more information.