Teaching and learning: Skotnes at Polly Street
Considerable as Cecil Skotnes’ reputation as a practising artist has been, it has been matched by the recognition of his contribution to South African art as a teacher and mentor. His input from 1952 to 1965 at the Polly Street Art Centre was of great significance, as Polly Street was to become, to quote Esmé Berman, ‘the launching-pad for the first large-scale venture of urban black South Africans into the plastic arts’.1 There has been wide recognition of the Centre’s importance in the literature on South African art, but surprisingly little detail about the way it operated has been recorded. And there has been little exploration of its difference from the established institutions of art in South Africa. Only relatively recently have questions been asked by writers like Steven Sack and David Koloane about problems associated with offering a predominantly western form of art making to black artists in the context of apartheid. The role and nature of the teaching at the Centre in relation to these questions has not yet been examined in any depth.2
Part of the difficulty in reconstructing the history of the Polly Street Art Centre lies in the fact that the constitution and other records were deliberately destroyed.3 But such records would in any event have recorded only one perspective of the chronicle. I have tried to turn the problem of limited research resources into an advantage, by using personal interviews with Skotnes and with the artists, teachers and others on which I was dependent in lieu of documentation:4 their assistance has helped me to reflect something of the multiplicity of voices that constitutes Polly Street’s history. In fleshing out some of the details about the Centre, this essay challenges the uncomplicated nature of most accounts, whether constructed by white or black writers, and endeavours to piece together its story in a more multi-faceted way. In the context of this publication honouring Cecil Skotnes, the focus will of course be on his role, but I have attempted to contextualise his achievements as a teacher within the broader history of the Polly Street Art Centre and its artists.
Skotnes the teacher
Just as the fabric of an artist’s work is woven from the threads of myriad experiences, so equally numerous formative experiences contribute to the development of a teacher. Cecil Skotnes never had a training in education, but drew on his own background for ideas when he began teaching. Obviously his formal art training after the war, first part-time at the Johannesburg School of Art for a year and then at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1947 to 1950, was important as a model. The demonstration paintings that he made at the Polly Street Art Centre, for example, drew on techniques that he had learnt as a student, as is seen in a still life given to Gideon Uys after one of these demonstrations, which closely resembles the fluid watercolour style of Erica Berry, who had been teaching at Wits since 1946.
But two other vivid memories, unrelated to formal art institutions and predating his student days, also seem to have been of particular significance for Skotnes. The first dated from his years at Con Cowan Junior High School when, although art was not part of the curriculum, he was encouraged in art making by Joán Couzyn, his woodwork master, who had been an assistant to the sculplor Anton van Wouw. Couzyn taught the young Cecil how to model and cast – well enough for the boy’s head of a Bushman to be presented to the Director of Education when he visited the school. Skotnes’ interest in sculpture – unusual in an artist who has concentrated primarily on two-dimensional forms himself – may well date from this time, for there was no training in that discipline at Wits in the 1940s. (One should probably not discount though that his lecturer for drawing was the sculptor Willem de Sanderes Hendrikz, whom he later assisted on various projects.)
A memory from the war years offered a different perspective, and, in Skotnes’ recollection, was not only seminal in his decision to become an artist, but in his later development as an art teacher. In 1945, while on leave in Florence – where the Americans had organised various cultural activities for the forces – Skotnes met the Austrian painter, Heinrich Steiner. Steiner encouraged Skotnes’ art production by meeting him for intensive discussions about his work, which Skotnes found very stimulating. The use of personal dialogue, of ‘crits’ about art works, seemed to him more fruitful than programmatic teaching. He still regards Heinrich Steiner as one of his first and most important instructors.
This early experience of informal mentoring may well help to explain why Skotnes has had such wide influence and has been able to contribute to the careers of artists who were never officially his students. Skotnes developed confidence in his ability to guide other artists in a positive way, and had the personality and powers of persuasion to make his intervention effective. He was also generous in sharing his skills. Lucky Sibiya, for example, learnt about carving wood panels in relief when he came to Skotnes’ home to ask for assistance in the 1960s, at a time when Skotnes had himself only quite recently developed his well-known technique of wood engraving. While visiting the Skotnes family socially in the 1970s, David Brown, who had trained in graphic art, was given his first ‘lesson’ in sculpture – in this case in modelling plaster on an armature – because Skotnes had perceived a potential for three-dimensional form in the younger artist’s work. Willie Bester recalls how he visited Skotnes a few times in the 1980s, once the family had settled in Cape Town, and how Skotnes showed him ways to work with oil paint and glazes. Tyrone Appollis also talks of Skotnes as a mentor and particularly recalls how he gave him advice (over the telephone!) when he began carving. And Skotnes’ son, John, has been successfully wooed into employing his goldsmith’s skills to make sculpture on a larger scale. These few illustrations demonstrate that Skotnes has an innate interest in teaching which does not require a formal ‘classroom’ situation to prompt it.5
It must be remembered, however, that these examples postdate Skotnes’ experience at the Centre in Polly Street and its later premises at the Jubilee Centre, the success of which was undoubtedly the reason why so many artists sought his advice. There he developed his assurance as a teacher. Skotnes makes it very clear that he had to learn how to teach when he first arrived at Polly Street, and that his early years there were inevitably experimental. Indeed, it should be remembered that he had no plans to become a teacher, and came to it more by chance than design. When Skotnes sought work urgently after his return to South Africa from Europe in 1951, as he and his wife were expecting their first child, he applied for a post advertised for a Welfare Officer in the Non-European Affairs Department, and was appointed Assistant Supervisor at Jabawu Township. Skotnes speculates that he was drawn to work of this kind because of liberal tendencies instilled by his missionary parents. But he did not particularly enjoy the post, and was quick to accept the position of Cultural Recreation Officer when it was offered to him soon after.
Early years at Polly Street
When Skotnes took over this post in mid-1952, he inherited a going concern, though predominantly in the area of music, which had been the speciality of his predecessor, David Rycroft. The Johannesburg Local Committee for Adult Education, which controlled funding for extra-mural educational projects for black people in the city, had been initiated in 1948. It launched its first classes the following year in what had been a hall for a women’s hostel in Polly Street, supplied by the Johannesburg City Council at a nominal rental. At its inception in 1949, the Polly Street Centre seems to have been concerned with both adult education and recreation. As well as literacy classes and courses for those studying for their matriculation, there were choirs and bands, for example, and Ernest Manana, who attended art classes as a boy in 1949, recalled classes in boxing, judo and ballroom dancing.6
A series of volunteers also taught in the area of arts and crafts. The voluntary teachers included Eleanor Lorimer, then on the staff of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, Mary Duxbury, who taught calligraphy, and the painters, Emily Fern, Fred Schimmel, and Larry Scully.7 The latter painted a large mural on the south wall based on the decorations he admired at the Mapoch village near Pretoria – possibly the first ‘neo-African’ art8 to emerge at Polly Street. Gideon Uys, who chaired the Johannesburg Local Committee for Adult Education, also taught art classes at the Centre and continued to assist for a time after Skotnes took over. So too did Fred Schimmel who, next to Skotnes, probably taught the longest at Polly Street, from its inception in 1949 until around 1957 when he went to Australia for an extended period.
Although art classes had been established and had already attracted several promising students9 and a few interesting clients,10 no one had been able to give the classes their fullest commitment in those early days, because teachers worked only on a voluntary basis after hours. Uys was the local commercial attaché at the American Embassy, for example, and Scully was already teaching art with Walter Battiss at Pretoria Boys’ High School. The continuity of classes was also disrupted if a teacher was away.11 It is therefore hardly surprising that Skotnes recalls only one student remaining in the art section when he was appointed in 1952, with a staff of a cleaner and an assistant, Solomon Maqambalala, who had learnt calligraphy. But an appointee with an interest in the visual arts for the full-time Cultural Recreation Officer (who also wielded some influence as ex officio secretary of the Committee for Non-European Adult Education) was to change the picture to such a degree that Polly Street is thought of today solely as an art centre. But while more formal classes at the Centre, such as those preparing adults for matriculation, gradually disappeared as Nationalist education policies came into force, there was still a wide range of activities. As Cultural Recreation Officer, Skotnes had many other duties besides art teaching.
In particular, he facilitated the further development of the music section which had been the special interest of his predecessor David Rycroft. Polly Street continued to be an important music centre, extending into the Jubilee Centre in Eloff Street even before the whole project moved there at the end of the 1950s. Given his own lack of training in this area, Skotnes relied on the assistance of several others, especially Khabi Mngoma (later Professor of Music at the University of Zululand), whose appointment Skotnes was able to arrange when Mngoma had lost his teaching post because of clashes with the Bantu Education authorities. According to Skotnes, Mngoma came up with ideas while he found the ways and means to implement them. For instance, when Mngoma wanted to initiate a string orchestra, Skotnes managed to get together sufficient musical instruments for this purpose, in addition to the large collection of wind and percussion instruments used by the two municipal black brass bands, one for the Non-European Affairs Department and one for the Cleansing Department, which also fell under the Cultural Officer’s jurisdiction. A music library was established, ultimately housing some 25000 scores, many of the works translated into tonic sol-fa for those who could not read music.12 Choirs were fostered, the Bantu Musical Festivals organised,13 and the South African Ballroom Dancing Championship instituted nation-wide.14 In addition, individual students obtained qualifications through the Royal College of Music. To arrange for tuition, an ingenious scheme was initiated, where each student who was sponsored to go to a specialist music teacher would in turn teach four or five others. But the staff at the Centre also grew, and Skotnes recalls that there were some eight or nine appointments in music when he resigned in 1965.
Tracing Skotnes’ input in this area may seem irrelevant to the development of an art centre, but it clarifies that his position was not primarily as an art master – ‘director’ of the Polly Street Art Centre – as has often been suggested. The Cultural Recreation Officer, like his counterpart in Sports Recreation, was appointed first and foremost as an administrator, responsible for organised culture and recreation for black people living in Johannesburg, and was supplied with a car to make this possible. More of his time was spent in the townships than at Polly Street, and much of it after working hours, when people were free to take part in recreational pursuits.15 Through his position as a co-ordinator, Skotnes facilitated a whole range of cultural enterprises. But it was his own interests and motivation that led him to take personal responsibility for the art classes at Polly Street and ultimately to foster their development from a leisure-time activity to the sound basis for professional art practice that they were to become in the black community.
Teaching art at Polly Street
Despite the fact that Skotnes’ initiative at the Polly Street Art Centre was to launch the careers of many black artists, it would be misleading to compare it to art schools at white institutions. Louis Maqhubela, who first attended classes in late 1954 while still a schoolboy, confirms in a letter of 22 September 1994 that the Centre
… was not a regular art school with professional courses. One might add that due to the meagre grant from the Council, R400 p.a. for a student membership in the region of 40, the facilities were very basic indeed. We had to make do with powder paints akin to what one finds in kindergartens …
Classes took place only once a week on Wednesday evenings.16 They began in the late afternoon when high school pupils arrived and continued for adults who came after work until around 9:00pm.17 Leaning on trestle tables, the students usually worked on cheap paper in pencil or used the powder paint that Maqhubela mentions. Boxes of watercolour blocks and good paper were highly valued, the former often reserved for ‘prizes’ for promising students to make it possible for them to work at home.
Initially Skotnes, with some assistance from the remaining members of the committee,18 expended considerable energy in simply keeping the operation alive, as resources were so limited19 and the class had to be built up again. These were the early years of Nationalist power, when Bantu Education policy was being formulated and independent efforts in black adult education, other than literacy classes, were coming into disfavour. Skotnes recalls that he was happy to avoid interference and keep a low profile with the authorities (who were anyway unwilling to visit that part of town at night when the class took place). He sought assistance from the press and radio to gain some publicity and support for the Centre. Students began to attend in increasing numbers and some companies made donations, like drawing paper from Spicers and other art materials and frames from Whippmans. A donation of chicken soup from Thrupps has led some to surmise that art may not have been the main attraction for all the students!20 Skotnes’ memory of a fire burning in a large drum on cold winter evenings and the dishing out of hot soup, with jazz in the background as musicians practised in the hall next to the large room used as a studio, underlines the social nature of the early years. It seems clear that Polly Street’s beginnings were informal and recreational.21
The role of the teachers seems to have been primarily to go around the class discussing whatever work a student was busy with, not requiring specific individual projects or imposing set ideas, but developing rather each students’ interests. Skotnes was drawing on his memories of Steiner in Florence, but the approach was not much different from that employed at Wits either, except that at the university assignments would have been set. Past students at Polly Street remember working predominantly from imagination, following their own ideas. Activities could be more directed, however. Ben Arnold recalls Skotnes ‘briefing’ classes at a blackboard before the work for the evening was begun. Sometimes a still life group would be set up, and occasionally Skotnes would give a ‘demonstration’ of how to paint. He also introduced life drawing at a later stage, using the students themselves as clothed models, and varying the exercises from a series of quick ten-minute poses to lengthier, more considered studies.
But most important in everyone’s memory was the constructive individual discussion of work done in class, and sometimes of work brought from home. David Mogano, for example, who attended the Centre from 1959 and also visited Skotnes’ own studio for assistance, recounts that he was always very encouraging in his approach, guiding students to improve their work – rather than instructing them – in a way that would, in Mogano’s own words, ‘open your mind’. Ezrom Legae, who worked at Jubilee Centre from the beginning of the 1960s, also recalls that Skotnes would never tell students how to do something, but was rather intent on ‘making people think with their eyes’, as Legae phrased it.
Another aspect of the classes that would have contributed to the development of the students’ visual thinking was informal discussion of works by other artists. There was an epidiascope at the Centre which Skotnes sometimes used to project images if there was time left after a class. Skotnes was conscious of the material culture of Africa, and hoped initially to encourage his students to draw on this heritage: he did not want to impose Eurocentric concepts in case he ‘might be destroying something’.22 But he soon found that the urban black artists with whom he was working had virtually no knowledge of the material culture of the continent. He recounts that he showed his students images of African artefacts, and the eclectic sources of Sydney Kumalo’s work in St Peter Claver at Kroonstad in 1957 provide evidence that Skotnes encouraged students to draw on a wide range of African motifs, from local sources as well as from central and west Africa. But the books and magazines around the studio23 would have provided predominantly western imagery and not everyone linked to Polly Street recalls looking at African art:24 Louis Maqhubela, for example, particularly remembers being shown reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings, and Ben Arnold work from the Bauhaus. People no doubt remember what seemed important to them.
Skotnes himself has often mentioned showing students European art that had been influenced by Africa, such as Cubism, and he particularly recalls discussing a ‘Cubist’ approach to the simplification of three-dimensional form with Kumalo. The teachers did not prompt students to follow a specific direction, however. Both Skotnes and Schimmel have stated that they drew rather on the potential they perceived in the works that the students produced to help them to develop a personal style. For example, Kumalo’ s relief panels representing the Stations of the Cross for St Peter Claver signalled a direction that he could develop when he took up sculpture as his main interest. There was no attempt to limit students to African imagery, to prescribe a style or to promote art making that was recognisably ‘black’, as has subsequently been suggested, although the art market may well have encouraged black artists to work in that direction.
Skotnes also recalls taking groups to visit the Johannesburg Art Gallery, and talking about the techniques of the works there. One of the paintings he remembers them looking at was Sekoto’s Yellow Houses. A Street in Sophiatown, and it is interesting to speculate whether this might have influenced those artists who were painting similar subject matter. Although their works showed variations in style, it is noteworthy that the majority of painters who trained at Polly Street worked very much within western representational conventions to portray scenes of township life. But the sculptors were to evolve a more individualised approach that De Jager has called a ‘neo-African’ style, evident even in their two-dimensional works: Kumalo’s sculpture and drawing provide good examples. Important for this development was the encouragement given to Polly Street sculptors by Egon Guenther, who believed that a significant work of art reflected its time and its environment – in this case Africa. This principle was reinforced by the concurrent explorations of stylisation in the work of white artists connected with the Centre, like Edoardo Villa and Skotnes himself.25
The development of a personal ‘vision’ was not, however, the only focus of the Centre. Skotnes stressed the importance of sound technical training in a variety of media, although water-based paints were the most favoured. David Mogano particularly valued this aspect of Skotnes’ teaching and remembers his advice on watercolour painting, especially the method of working wet on wet. Durant Sihlali also recalls this aspect of the teaching, although in a less positive way. He had been working regularly from around 1951 with the Chiawelo group of artists under Alpheus Kubeka (himself an ex-Polly Street artist of the pre-Skotnes days), which met on Saturdays in the townships, and which favoured a more controlled technique. Sihlali felt that his style of plein air, carefully observed painting from nature was less favoured than freer, more expressive work when he attended Polly Street in the mid 1950s.26
The main emphasis of the earlier years seems to have been two-dimensional art, but Sihlali and Ben Arnold remember classes including clay modelling too, which drew on the skills Skotnes had learnt as a schoolboy from Joán Couzyn. It may seem surprising that, when wood was a material often employed in the making of African artefacts, and when he was engraving wood himself, Skotnes never encouraged carving at Polly Street (although wood with burnt poker work was employed in some of the Polly Street church commissions, such as Kumalo’s Crucifix for St Martin de Porres in Orlando). Wood was probably not used because of the difficulty of obtaining it and the expense of tools needed to carve. It is noteworthy that Lucas Sithole, who attended the Centre from 1959 to 1969 and later became known as a sculptor in wood, had acquired his wood-working skills elsewhere since he had previously trained as a carpenter at the Vlakfontein Technical College in Middelburg.
But clay could easily be obtained in the city and modelling did not require expensive equipment. And it too had a history of use amongst African people in South Africa, not only for functional pottery, but also for small representational images, particularly of cattle, made by young boys – though probably less frequently in the urban context of Johannesburg. Skotnes initially used white Grahamstown clay at Polly Street. The architect, Jan van Gemert, who had been a master builder in Holland, probably first suggested the use of brick clay, and Sammy Liebermann, who assisted the Polly Street students with firing at his pottery, pointed out its technical advantages. Because it is grogged, brick clay is relatively easy to shape and hardens naturally as it dries, although it can also be fired. And it had the further advantage of being readily available and cheap, or even free. Ben Arnold still remembers fetching supplies of clay from a brickyard in Primrose near Germiston which donated it to the Centre. There were practical reasons why the distinctive colour and texture of brick clay came to characterise the work of Polly Street sculptors.
A similar economic consideration probably promoted the focus on inexpensive two-dimensional media. Not only could these materials be supplied from the Centre’s limited budget, but they were comparatively cheap for students who wanted to pursue their art independently. Skotnes has also said that in part-time classes it was important to use media with which results could be obtained relatively quickly and easily, to give students a sense of achievement – hence the emphasis on drawing and water-based paints.
There may also have been a more ideological reason for the focus on these two-dimensional media in the early years. Skotnes recounted that his first attempts to introduce sculpture were not well received by some of the students. The assistant Maqambalala thought that this was because they related sculpture to craft pursuits (almost the only form of art offered in the black classrooms of Bantu Education) and to the tribal emphasis and stress on racial difference that was becoming increasingly enforced in South Africa. So although Skotnes was teaching modelling from an early date, sculpture did not become popular until after Kumalo’s Kroonstad commission and further successes.27
Skotnes had enough technical knowledge to help Kumalo with his first sculptural commissions, and was able to assist him with mould-making and casting when firing proved unsuccessful for some of the panels for his first Stations of the Cross. But once Kumalo’s work began to show evidence that sculpture would become his medium, Skotnes arranged for him to work with Edoardo Villa twice a week between 1958 and 1960. Also of critical importance was the input of Egon Guenther, who had established an art gallery in Johannesburg in the later 1950s. After Skotnes had introduced them, Guenther, too, became a mentor for Kumalo, offering astute criticism of his work as well as promoting it on the art market. He was also to play this role for other sculptors from the Centre such as Legae.
Skotnes seems to have made it his practice to facilitate interchange between promising artists at Polly Street and others who might assist them professionally, thus building up a network of contacts for his students.28 He recalls, for example, arranging for Louis Maqhubela to meet Guiseppe Cattaneo, and Maqhubela tells of how Cattaneo introduced him to the use of conté crayon.29 And of course the interchange of the black artists themselves at the Centre was also extremely important. In retrospect, the approach at Polly Street seems to Skotnes to have been closer to that of an art workshop than an academic art school.30
This aspect of the Centre was facilitated by the policy of having the studio and its equipment available to students between classes at Polly Street as long as Maqambalala was there to give them access. Durant Sihlali stresses how important the Centre was as a meeting place in the city, creating a point of focus and interchange for practising artists.31 There was no official ‘teaching’ outside the class times, but Skotnes might discuss art with anyone working there when he visited the Centre in between his other duties. After his appointment as Art Organiser in 1958, Sydney Kumalo was available much of the time for students. Although he, like Skotnes, had responsibilities in the townships, art was his sole portfolio, so he had more time for teaching. This aspect of the Centre seems to have become even more effective after the move to the Jubilee Centre in Eloff Street at the end of the 1950s. This may in part have been because it was more accessible (and less unsafe than the Polly Street area had become), but was no doubt also a reflection of the growing reputation of the Centre. Related to this was the increasing number of successful black artists who had trained there and who continued to make use of the facilities that the Centre offered and to participate in the discussions. Skotnes recalls that he often asked experienced Polly Street artists like Ephraim Ngatane and Ben Arnold to assist unofficially, to walk around and talk with students about their work if they were at the studio. This probably explains why many black artists’ names have been associated with teaching at the Centre, even though only Kumalo, and later Legae, were appointed to established posts there.
The development of professionalism
While Polly Street undoubtedly offered a sound basis for artistic practice, classes alone would not have initiated professional careers for black artists. A gradual change in emphasis away from recreational art was initiated by a series of important commissions in the second half of the 1950s. These opportunities came about through the initiative of patrons of liberal inclination who thought it appropriate to employ black artists if they were decorating buildings to be used by black people. As Polly Street became known, it became an obvious source of artists for such projects. Ezekiel Segole, for example, painted wall panels for a commission as early as 1953 for a mining compound’s eating house in Ladybrand in the Free State.32 Around March 1957, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Kroonstad and his architect, Jan van Gemert, came to Polly Street seeking black artists to decorate the new church of St Peter Claver. As Sydney Kumalo, who had been attending classes since 1952/53, had to leave school and find work at the time, Skotnes proposed him for the Kroonstad commission. Mentor and artist worked out the procedure and technique for the first ceiling panel together, then Skotnes withdrew, leaving Kumalo to carry on. Similarly he assisted Kumalo technically when the sculptural part of the project had to be tackled. Van Rensburg records that other Polly Street artists assisted, John Hlatywayo making the Crucifix in concrete, and Skotnes himself carved the Bishop’s chair to Van Gemert’s design.33
Further commissions followed, such as those for churches in Orlando in 1958, and Welkom in 1961, where Skotnes himself undertook the large mural behind the altar, while Kumalo made the Stations of the Cross and Ben Arnold a terracotta statue of St Michael. In 1960, at the suggestion of Cattaneo who knew Kumalo’s work through Villa, Ernest Ullmann offered Kumalo a commission for the Union Pavilion at Milner Park, Johannesburg. For this he produced his first bronze, Praying Woman, developed from a tiny attenuated figure he had made after seeing a horn egret or ‘tick bird’ that Skotnes had bought in Rhodesia. Ullmann was also to employ Kumalo, together with Skotnes, in 1964 to enlarge his small model to make the monumental bronze Playmakers outside the Johannesburg Civic Theatre. Skotnes recalls that he, Kumalo, and probably Tosby Keipedele, modelled birds, based on those of Great Zimbabwe, for the Oppenheimer Tower in Soweto. Interestingly, many of the commissions seem to have been for sculpture or relief decoration, although Skotnes also arranged with Colin Goodman, township housing engineer for the Non-European Affairs Department, for Louis Maqhubela to make decorative murals for public buildings, such as St John’s Eye Hospital in Soweto. Even these were not paintings, but mosaics for which Skotnes showed him a basic laying technique with broken pieces of bathroom tiles. Maqhubela recalls that he enjoyed the opportunity to practise handling colour, although, with his work already selling well at the Adler Fielding Gallery, the job was not worth doing from a financial point of view; according to Skotnes, he was only paid a plasterer’s wage. But it did lead on to better commissions, such as a large mosaic, more than three by ten metres, for an airways company in Kempton Park.
As Maqhubela’s recollection intimates, another source of the growing professionalism at Polly Street came with the sale of work produced by the students. From the outset their work had been shown at small exhibitions at the Centre and also sold informally to visitors. As well as interested South African liberals, foreigners sometimes called by to see student work. Uys recounted that the Centre was occasionally used as something of a showpiece of successful inter-racial cooperation by the authorities. In many respects this was true, although there was no reason for the bureaucracy – which offered the Centre so little support – to take any credit for it. Artists like Ben Arnold and Louis Maqhubela affirm that there was an absence of racial tension at the Centre; as Maqhubela expresses it in a letter of 22 September 1994
… of all the issues in the world, race conflict is one issue that was the least prominent amongst artists I used to mix with … even way back in the sixties, artists were the only community that could be on first name terms across the colour line.
Soon Polly Street artists were becoming known to the art community not only through visitors to the Centre but through exhibitions. The Star of 3 October 1950 records works by Polly Street artists in an exhibition of Bantu Arts and Crafts at the Jubilee Social Centre. There was an exhibition specifically of Polly Street art in a foyer at Wits University as early as 1953, Skotnes recalls, and another in 1954–55 at Helen de Leeuw’s Craftsman Market, opened by Father Trevor Huddleston.34 These early exhibitions probably had a double agenda: to gain publicity and support for the Centre, and to effect sales for the artists. More substantial financial and professional opportunities for Polly Street artists were provided when commercial art galleries began to exhibit their work regularly, such as the group show at Queen’s Hall Gallery in 1960, and one as far afield as the Lidchi Gallery in Cape Town in 1963, opened by Neville Dubow.
The early 1960s saw an important change in the art scene, with a number of gallery owners, buyers and art critics realising the potential of black artists. As well as an increasing number of group shows including Polly Street artists, there were also highly successful solo exhibitions, starting with Kumalo and the painter Ephraim Ngatane in 1962. Skotnes recalls that the numbers working at the Centre (by this time Jubilee) expanded dramatically as these successes attracted widespread interest. With the increasing commercial aspirations of artists at the Centre, it was used more and more as an ongoing workshop, making space and materials available for the production of art. Sales provided a practical motivation for art making. Ben Arnold remembers artists meeting at the Centre on Saturday mornings to review their works and discard those which seemed unsuitable for exhibition.
This changing pattern from recreation to professionalism had been encouraged further when one of the students of the Centre joined the staff. Sydney Kumalo was appointed Art Organiser to assist Skotnes in 1958 and began to teach soon after, both at Polly Street and in Orlando.35 This was important not only in providing Kumalo with the opportunity to spend all his time on art, and making him available to offer assistance to those who were using the Centre as a workshop, but also in furnishing a role model for other aspiring black artists. Although it is hard to overestimate the importance of Kumalo’s appointment, it should be stressed that he was never appointed Cultural Recreation Officer, officially in charge of the Centre, as is so often claimed. Skotnes points out, however, that Kumalo was to all intents and purposes in charge, taking responsibility for classes and forming the nucleus of the group of serious students in the 1960s. But by 1964 both Skotnes’ and Kumalo’s personal careers were flourishing and demanding more of their time. Kumalo left the Centre that year to devote himself to his own art. Skotnes felt obliged to stay on for the following year until he found someone to take his place, and then also resigned.36 Legae had by then taken over Kumalo’s post, and Bill Hart was appointed to that of Skotnes. Although Skotnes undertook to launch art classes at Damelin College in 1966, and taught at the Community Arts Project (CAP) after he moved to Cape Town in 1978,37 1965 marked the end of his most crucial years as a teacher, even though, as has previously been mentioned, he continued to act informally as a mentor to many artists.
In some ways the mid-1960s marked the beginning of the decline of the Centre also. This had little to do with the teachers, however, or the participation of aspirant black artists. Already at the end of the 1950s Skotnes had been anxious about the future of Polly Street because the crime rate had risen in that part of town, causing problems for the Centre and its students. But he was able to negotiate new premises at the Jubilee Centre in Eloff Street, when government policy under Verwoerd had decreed that the social workers training there should be transferred to rural areas. After the move to Jubilee, which took place at the end of the 1950s,38 the Centre continued to operate successfully, although Skotnes and Kumalo realised that its days were numbered, as the authorities’ increasingly rigorous enforcement of apartheid policy would not tolerate a thriving black project much longer in what was considered a white area. From the early 1960s Skotnes began the transfer of equipment, such as the large collection of musical instruments that had been painstakingly assembled and maintained, to township centres to prevent it being reclaimed by bureaucracy when the Centre was closed. It was at this time also that the constitution and documents relating to the Centre were destroyed so that there were no records to which the authorities could refer. The Centre, in fact, carried on for some five years after Skotnes’ resignation before it was ultimately closed in 1970, and current students like Pat Mautloa had to find other places to work, in his case at the Mofolo Art Centre in Soweto.39
The role of Polly Street
In terms of commissions and exhibitions, and the number of students from the Centre that became full-time artists, Polly Street had decisively taken on the function of a professional art school.40 As the earliest urban art centre on a large scale, the Art Centre at Polly Street – and later at Jubilee Centre – played a unique role, setting a precedent for other art initiatives, as well as providing training for many who would teach in them. But while acknowledging the significance of the Centre, it is important not to misrepresent its position. Writing on South African art is often misleading, implying that Polly Street offered a professional qualification rather than acknowledging that it was a workshop situation with a weekly class. It is important, though, to remember that there were no other alternatives, and that, ironically at the very time that Polly Street had aroused widespread interest in art in the black community, art schools at tertiary institutions offering an extensive full-time training were closed to black students. Maqhubela, for example, completed his matriculation at the end of the 1950s and planned to register at Wits, just as the university was closed to him because of the government legislation which enforced even the ‘open’ universities to confine their teaching to defined racial groups. And there were no art departments at universities established for black students at the time. Maqhubela recalls that it was small comfort when Skotnes tried to console him by saying that he had no need for that kind of art education because he had already outstripped many white art students.
The seeds of bitterness that this exclusion planted has led some to belittle Polly Street’s contribution. With the hindsight of the era of grand apartheid, the Centre has seemed to some a patronising gesture of white liberalism, marginal to an independent development of black art. Matsemela Manaka, for instance, for instance, scarcely mentions it in his Echoes of African Art.41 Thus, while white art historians have most frequently written of Polly Street in terms of expectations based on their experience of white art institutions, and have made much of its achievements, black writers, and sometimes artists too, have offered a somewhat different perspective. Their accounts do not offer the same sense of the Centre as an exemplary white initiative empowering black artists in the teeth of apartheid prohibitions and constraints. David Koloane has construed that Polly Street reflected negative values in South African society, in that it offered a training for black artists different from that offered in white institutions, thus reinforcing in the domain of art the doctrine of separate development that was evolving in South African policy at the time. While Koloane acknowledges that ‘with his academic background and creative experience, Skotnes formulated a basic structure of tuition to assist students to explore their potential’,42 he has also interpreted the pattern of instruction at Polly Street as tacitly racist, denying black artists the privilege of a western education, and patronisingly implying that they should be ‘natural’ artists who work in an untutored manner – a style that would then be exploited by the white art market.
The information available about Polly Street makes it clear that the Centre was, indeed, not the same as white educational institutions. Those who suggest that the Centre in some ways reflected the divisions of South African society are entirely correct in that regard. That Polly Street functioned within the framework of segregation clearly demonstrates the point. As regards the kind of training it offered its black students, however, it is the policies of Bantu Education that should be denounced for denying full educational opportunities to black artists, rather than Polly Street. The Centre was never intended to have the same role as tertiary institutions: it was launched to offer part-time evening classes with a focus on recreation, providing an introduction to art in a community that rarely even had art lessons at school. Through Skotnes’ initiative the emphasis became more professional, and artists enjoyed technical training and serious discussion of their art as well as materials and a place to work between classes. But Polly Street never offered a formal education. There was no structured curriculum in theory and practice, no examinations and qualifications.
In the context of twentieth-century art practice, where academic qualifications have become the accepted route to a career in the arts, it is thus all the more extraordinary that Polly Street found a successful way to assist artists to develop through its classes and workshop system – a success attested by the works produced by artists who attended the Centre. The range of artistic expression that characterises their work is testimony to the success of Skotnes and the teachers who assisted him in promoting not only skills, but a sense of artistic purpose, self confidence and, ultimately, professionalism, that was of vital importance in launching the careers of many black artists. Polly Street may not have offered an equivalent training to formal art schools, but it did build a bridge across one of the chasms created by apartheid education. In that way it was a critical force in the development of art in South Africa.
While Skotnes succeeded in initiating the careers of many black artists, it should also be acknowledged that the Centre was important for Skotnes himself.43 Teaching art is never a one-way process. Particularly because Skotnes worked at Polly Street during his formative years as an artist, the concepts generated and the contacts forged there became inextricably intertwined in his own development. To understand what took place at Polly Street possibly offers as much insight for the work of Skotnes as it does for the work of those whom he taught.
Formal training for artists in South Africa in the mid-century, such as Skotnes received, was predominantly conservative, with a strong western orientation and a concentration on conventional media. The Polly Street experience may well have been a catalyst in Skotnes’ challenge to this practice, in his modification of his style, content and technique to reflect in a personal way in his art his location on the continent of Africa. He was undoubtedly learning himself when he was thinking about the needs of his African students in an innovative way, discussing their work with them, or collaborating on projects with such artists as Sydney Kumalo. The network he developed for the Polly Street artists was important for him also. Significant too was his looking at that time at African art and modern art forms influenced by it, such as the German Expressionist works owned or exhibited by Egon Guenther, who not only promoted and mentored Polly Street artists, but Skotnes as well. Although Skotnes finally resigned from Polly Street because it was taking too much time from his own art production, it had been in many ways a factor of that production. The Centre was not a discrete part of Skotnes’ life, but a seminal ingredient of his career as an artist.
Rankin, Elizabeth. 1996. Teaching and learning: Skotnes at Polly Street. In Harmsen, F. (ed.). Cecil Skotnes. Cape Town: South African Breweries. 65–82.
- E Berman, Art and Artists of South Africa, 1983, p 338. [↩]
- Considering the status accorded the Polly Street Art Centre, and the frequency with which it is mentioned, remarkably little of substance has been published about it. Apart from short entries of a rather general nature in Esme Berman’s Art and Artists of South Africa (1970, repeated in the second edition of 1983) and Eddie de Jager’s Images of Man: Contemporary South African black art and artists (1992), the most substantial coverage of Polly Street is to be found in Sheree Lissoos, Johannesburg Art and Artists: Selections from a Century (1986). Steven Sack’s chapter in The Neglected Tradition: Towards a new history of South African art (1988) and an essay ‘The Polly Street Art Scene’ by David Koloane in A Nettleton and D Hammond-Tooke, African Art in Southern Africa (1989). There are also two unpublished academic dissertations which include work on Polly Street: Susanna Jansen van Rensburg, ‘Sydney Kumalo en ander Bantoekunstenaars van Transvaal’ (unpublished MA, University of Pretoria, 1970) and A Krell, ‘Urban African Art in South Africa’ (unpublished MA (FA), University of Cape Town, 1972). Research on Polly Street informed essays in my catalogue, Images of Metal: Aspects of the history of sculpture in twentieth-century South Africa (1994), and an earlier version of the present article, ‘Polly Street – the Legend and the Legacy’, was read at the conference of the South African Association of Art Historians at Stellenbosch in July 1994. [Author’s addendum: Since this essay was published in 1996, there have been a number of additional accounts of the Polly Street contribution, such as Elza Miles, Polly Street: the story of an art centre, Ampersand Foundation, 2004.] [↩]
- Skotnes explains that he decided to do this to save resources from Polly Street, such as musical instruments, for transfer to township use, because the constitution required the return of equipment if the Centre closed, which seemed inevitable with escalating apartheid legislation. I am very grateful to Cecil Skotnes for assistance in patiently providing answers to my innumerable questions about his work at Polly Street, including a number of tape recordings and also lengthy interviews in October 1988, August 1993 and July 1994. Recollections about his career are drawn from these personal communications unless otherwise indicated.
- I wish to place on record my appreciation to all those who were willing to give up their time for personal interviews, telephone conversations or correspondence, and for giving me generous access to scrapbooks and other documentation. Unless otherwise stated, statements attributed to them are drawn from these communications, for which the dates are noted here to avoid extensive references throughout the essay. I am grateful for assistance from artists who attended the Centre at some point – Ben Arnold (December 1994), Wilfred Delporte (June 1993), Ezrom Legae (October 1993), David Magoba (June 1994) , Louis Maqhubela (correspondence, September 1994, and notes of an earlier interview with Lize van Robbroeck) , Pat Mautloa (October 1993) and Durant Sihlali (October and December 1993), and also to others who had contact with the Centre in different ways: Guiseppe Cattaneo (February 1995), Jack Grossert (correspondence, June 1994), Egon Guenther (December 1993 and January 1994), Bill Hart (February 1995), Fred Schimmel (February 1995), Larry Scully (January 1995), the late Gideon Uys (June 1994), and Edoardo Villa (October 1993). Much of my material of course comes from Skotnes himself, and some from Thelma Skotnes, but it seemed important to verify their memories with those of others and with what little written material I could find , in press cuttings, for example. After such a long time, memories have to be treated with circumspection, and I have done my best to cross-check facts wherever possible. [↩]
- These examples of ‘non-Polly Street’ artists are largely drawn from interviews during my research for Images of Wood (1989) and Images of Metal (1994), where details are recorded, with the exception of Tyrone Appollis, who was interviewed in Johannesburg at the time of his exhibition at the Karen McKerron Gallery, September 1993. [↩]
- D Koloane, ‘The Polly Street Art Scene’ in Nettleton and Hammond-Tooke, African Art in Southern Africa, 1989, p 215.
- ‘No 1 Polly Street starts its art classes for natives’ in The Star of 25 July 1949 records that ‘The voluntary instructors at these classes are Mrs E K Lorimer, Mr Gideon Uys, Mr Fred Schimmer [sic] and Miss June Lorimer, who will give classes later in weaving and other crafts.’ Fred Schimmel recalls that June Lorimer’s stay was extremely brief. Larry Scully gave assistance later, and Gideon Uys also remembered Emily Fern’s input. [↩]
- This term was first used in relation to work by black artists in South Africa by Eddie de Jager in Contemporary African Art (1972), and picked up by Steven Sack in The Neglected Tradition (1989). Scully vividly remembers how, when the mural was completed, the assistant at Polly Street Solomon Maqambalala exclaimed, ‘Sir, you are a true African!’ [↩]
- Two early pupils at Polly Street were Ernest Manana and Alpheus Kubeka, who established the Chiawelo group, one of the first black initiatives in the arts. Fred Schimmel remembers them as talented artists and still owns some examples of Kubeka’s work, including two sculptures. [↩]
- In a testimonial for Larry Scully of 12 June 1951, Gideon Uys referred to there being paintings by Polly Street students ‘in celebrated collections in England and America’. He also recounted to me how Yehudi Menuhin made a number of purchases when he visited the Centre while touring South Africa, and that the American ambassador owned works from Polly Street. [↩]
- Fred Schimmel pointed out that there was a class of some twenty to thirty students, but it had disbanded when he went to work in Cape Town for the Van Riebeeck Festival in 1952 before Skotnes’ appointment. [↩]
- Regrettably the contents of this library were entirely destroyed by fire. [↩]
- Skotnes chaired the Bantu Music Festival Committee, including J P Tutu, Peter Rezant (from the Merry Blackbirds band), major choir members and black school principals. [↩]
- Skotnes recalls that this was the idea of his colleague Dale Quaker, who also initiated ballet classes in the townships. [↩]
- This suited Skotnes as an artist, for it meant that he had time during the day to spend on his own work in his studio, although he quite often assisted students there also. [↩]
- This seems to have been the pattern from the outset. Although Gideon Uys mentioned Scully giving up six hours a week to the Centre in a testimonial of 12 June 1951, he could himself remember only Wednesday evening classes, as could Fred Schimmel, and that pattern was also recorded in The Star, 4 July 1949. Skotnes confirms the practice of holding classes on Wednesday evenings. [↩]
- Ben Arnold, who first attended as a schoolboy, recalls that he arrived around 5:30pm and left two hours later to be in time to catch his bus home. [↩]
- Skotnes recalls that only Gideon Uys and the treasurer Rawlings were left from the original committee, which had included such people as Eleanor Lorimer and Trevor Huddleston. [↩]
- Records of the grant from the Union’s Education Department vary, but it had evidently been cut around the time Skotnes was appointed. Berman records that it had originally been R800, but was R400 in 1952. (Art and Artists of South Africa, 1983, pp 338-339.) It needs to be understood, however, that the grant was for distribution by the Johannesburg Local Committee to all the adult education projects it was supporting. These had dwindled and Skotnes recalls that a small balance had built up which was used for Polly Street. He remembers no direct grants for the Centre from the Education Department, although some funds were forthcoming in relation to the preparation of works for small travelling exhibitions in library foyers. [↩]
- See, for example, Joyce Ozynski , ‘Memories of Polly Street, soup and culture’, Sunday Express, 17 September 1978. [↩]
- The Star of 25 July 1949 recorded that the teachers provided ‘a useful and most engrossing recreational activity’ and were not ‘expecting to turn out artists – though some might emerge.’ Gideon Uys recalled this emphasis in the early days: although there were some schoolchildren at the Centre, most people in the group, ranging from their late teens to about forty years of age, were already employed in the city, with jobs as waiters, petrol attendants and street workers, for example, and perceived art as a leisure-time activity, not a career. [↩]
- S Sack, The Neglected Tradition, 1988, p 15. [↩]
- Maqhubela recalls back copies of Art International and Forum in the studio and Gideon Uys remembered taking in books on European art published by Skira, one of the few sources of good colour plates in those days. These publications would have emphasised Western art, but Skotnes recalls that some of the journals included images of African art, reflecting the rise of black consciousness at the time. [↩]
- Skotnes would not himself have had an extensive knowledge of African art at that stage, as it was not part of art history studies at Wits. The first book that he owned on the subject was published in 1958, although he had sought out African art as early as 1951 in the British Museum when living in London. The only place where some African art could be seen in Johannesburg in the early days was Maria Stein Lessing’s shop L’Afrique, or in the anthropological context of the Africana Museum. Although Skotnes would no doubt have heard much about African art from Egon Guenther, after their meeting in 1954, the German connoisseur had not yet assembled his magnificent collection in Johannesburg. [↩]
- In the early 1960s, Guenther was to promote the work of the Amadlozi group, which he felt demonstrated a quality of ‘Africanness’, including Villa, Skotnes and Kumalo, as well as Guiseppe Cattaneo and Cecily Sash. [↩]
- A Krell, Urban African Art in South Africa, UCT, 1972, p 34. [↩]
- This probably accounts for the fact that Skotnes previously remembered that the Kroonstad commission had led to the introduction of sculpture. [↩]
- Fred Schimmel stresses that Skotnes’ development of a network of contacts was a most important part of his contribution at Polly Street. [↩]
- Although it has often been implied that he was Cattaneo’s protégé, Maqhubela recalls only a single brief meeting at which he learnt about the conté medium which was to be important for his development. Maqhubela used conté in Peter’s Denial, which won the 1966 Artists of Fame and Promise award that first took him to Britain, where he was later to settle; during his early visit he met Douglas Portway, who also contributed something to the development of Maqhubela’s distinctive style. [↩]
- This was recounted not only to me, but also to Steven Sack (The Neglected Tradition, 1988, p 15). [↩]
- Krell suggests that the Chiawelo group ‘migrated’ to Polly Street because it seemed to provide a framework for them to establish themselves professionally. (Urban African Art in South Africa, UCT, 1972, p 36.) [↩]
- Although this commission has been little known, it was recorded in Van Rensburg, ‘Sydney Kumalo en ander Bantoekunstenaars van Transvaal’, UP, 1970, p 7, and D Koloane, ‘The Polly Street Art Scene’ in Nettleton and Hammond-Tooke, African Art in Southern Africa, 1989, p 218. [↩]
- Van Rensburg provides detailed accounts of this and other church commissions for the Polly Street artists. (‘Sydney Kumalo en ander Bantoekunstenaars van Transvaal’, UP, 1970, pp 11-27.) [↩]
- 1954 is recorded by Van Rensburg (‘Sydney Kumalo en ander Bantoekunstenaars van Transvaal’, UP, 1970, p 7), but 1955 is given by Ozynski (Sunday Express, 17 September 1978) and S Lissoos (Johannesburg Art And Artists, 1986, p 53). Another exhibition at Helen de Leeuw is reviewed in The Star, 11 June 1958. [↩]
- This appointment may have coincided with the withdrawal of Fred Schimmel’s continuing assistance in art classes which, he recalls, had been interrupted by a lengthy visit to Australia in 1957 and then ceased altogether because of personal problems in 1958. [↩]
- From as early as Lola Walter’s article, ‘Sydney Kumalo’, in Lantern 18(1): 34-42, 1968, to the many obituaries at the time of his death in 1988, it has been repeatedly stated that Kumalo took over when Skotnes resigned, although there is considerable variety in the date given for this imaginary event – from 1961 by Ogilvie (The Dictionary of South African Painters and Sculptors, 1988, p 357) to 1967 by Koloane (‘The Polly Street Art Scene’ in Nettleton and Hammond-Tooke, African Art in Southern Africa, 1989, p 220). Newspaper reports confirm Kumalo’s resignation in 1964 (Die Vaderland, 6 June 1966; Die Transvaler, 21 March 1967) as does Van Rensburg (‘Sydney Kumalo en ander Bantoekunstenaars van Transvaal’, UP, 1970, p 8). Skotnes’ departure can be dated by his grand farewell party which was held in December 1965: a copy of the programme has been preserved in Skotnes’ scrapbook, as well as press announcements of the new art department at Damelin College to be launched by Skotnes in February 1966. [↩]
- It seems that Skotnes was approached by artists from CAP to assist them. He first taught in Mowbray and then in an unused Anglican Church in District Six, as well as in Nyanga, Guguletu and Mitchell ‘s Plain. As had been the case at Polly Street, his teaching embraced a wide variety of techniques, and also involved assisting artists to establish themselves professionally by securing commissions for them. [↩]
- A precise date for the move cannot be given because, according to Skotnes, it was not a single event but took place over time. [↩]
- Bill Hart remembers teaching in the townships and at Mofolo after the Jubilee Centre was closed, but that, after the 1976 uprising in Soweto, he felt it was too dangerous to carry on. [↩]
- Despite the acknowledged importance of Polly Street, no definitive list of students has been assembled, or even a clear indication of numbers in the classes. Numbers are variously recorded , but it would seem that by the mid-1950s there were as many as seventy to eighty students ‘on the books’ at any time, with upwards of twenty attending a session, as best Skotnes can remember. Thus many hundreds no doubt passed through the Centre, although Durant Sihlali cautions that artists often stated that they had trained at Polly Street when they had attended only a few times, because of the reputation of the Centre and the status attached to working with a white teacher like Skotnes. A consolidated list of past students of the Polly Street and Jubilee Art Centres, some of which predate Skotnes’ arrival, drawn from a variety of sources (although identification is difficult because of variations in the spelling of names in the literature), includes Ben Arnold,* Sydney Buys,* Edward Daniels,* Wilfred Delporte, Karl Ditlopo,* Edward Domingo,* Dumile Feni (not usually associated with Polly Street, but remembered clearly by Fred Schimmel), John Hlatywayo,* S S Hlongwa,# Tosby Keipedele,* Eli Kobelie, Welcome Koboka, Alpheus Kubeka,# Sydney Kumalo, * Lloyd Layton ,* Ezrom Legae, Priscilla le Grange (pottery),* Ben Macala, Ernest Manana,# George Makgajane,* Solomon Maphiri, Louis Maqhubela,* Peter Martin,* Monty Mahobe,# José Manuele,# Richard Marks,* Joe Maseko, J S Mashabane,# Leonard Matsoso, Pat Mautloa, David Mbele, David Mogano, Peter Mokhethi , Samuel Mokoena, Nathaniel Mokgotsi, Joseph Molisi,* Themba Mokhethi Kumalo , Mosikare,* Morningstar Motaung, Godfrey Ndaba, Ephraim Ngatane,* Jacob Nhlabathi, Hargreaves Ntukwana, Harold Pongolo,* Aubrey Quaker, Matthew Rathebe,# Winston Saoli, Ezekiel Segole, Sello,* Durant Sihlali, Lucas Sithole, Christoper Smith,* Philip Sobikwe, Moses Tladi,* and Fred Tuge.* (Artists marked # were referred to as a group in a review of an exhibition of Bantu Arts and Crafts in The Star of 3 October 1950, though not specifically identified as Polly Street artists but including Kubeka and Manana who were at the Centre. * denotes artists who took part in the Polly Street exhibition at Queens Hall Gallery on 2 November 1960, the catalogue for which was brought to my attention by Dr Elza Miles.) There were no doubt many more who attended classes but whose names have gone unrecorded, such as a number of nurses from Baragwanath Hospital, who heard about the Centre when Skotnes had to lecture them as part of his duties as Cultural Recreation Officer. They were amongst the very few women I have come across that went to the Centre, though Ben Arnold recalls that quite a number of students brought along girl friends to join in the classes. [↩]
- M Manaka, Echoes of African Art, 1987, p 15. [↩]
- D Koloane, ‘The Polly Street Art Scene’ in Nettleton and Hammond-Tooke, African Art in Southern Africa, 1989, p 217. [↩]
- As Steven Sack comments, it was there that he ‘was able to launch himself … and a number of other artists into successful, lifelong art careers .’ (The Neglected Tradition, 1988, p 15; my italics). [↩]