Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

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About 24 centuries ago, it appears that a Greek person first gave expression to this idea. Some 21 centuries later it was used by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford (née Hamilton). She wrote many books, often under the pseudonym of ‘The Duchess’. The saying is found in her book Molly Bawn, published in1878. A century or so later it was put slightly differently by Miss Piggy, who said, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye’!

We may be attracted to Miss Piggy’s views, especially when someone does not agree with us. However, it seems true that people see and respond to beauty in many different ways.

This [first] thought was in my mind during a visit to the Everard Read Gallery in Rosebank. I enjoy being able to look at length at the work of different artists, expressing themselves in a variety of ways, in a quiet and unpressured environment. Open to new expressions and perceptions of beauty, which feed me in a significant way, I am touched and informed by their creations. It becomes a part of my own development. However, I am still free to decide on my personal response.

Almost immediately 2 prominent oil paintings captured my interest and attention. One was by Walter Voigt and the other by John Meyer. Both appealed to me, and I stood and soaked in the wonder of them, both from close and from further away. I could almost have stopped there. However, they pointed me on to 3 remarkable homestead scenes by Vusi Khumalo. The reality of his collage work is particularly striking and effective. I did not fully appreciate it until I looked more closely at the detail. Deeper into the gallery itself I found the current exhibition by Phillemon Hlungwani. Phillemon tells the story that, ‘When I was about five or six I did a drawing on the ground. My mother went and covered the drawing with a dish to protect it from the rain and other elements, so later I could go back and finish my drawing’. What encouragement!

He has come a long way since these beginnings in Thomo Village, Giyani in Limpopo Province.
Early last year he was profiled in both the Top Billing Magazine and TV programme.
His work is powerful, and in the starkness, poverty and pain that sometimes appear, he is nevertheless able to capture something of the beauty that still flowers within people, in their different situations.
Most of this is conveyed through charcoal drawings and dry-point etchings.

There were a number of other interesting works on display, including sculptures. Some of these were set very effectively in small garden areas. I particularly enjoyed the heads of two horses, set on a white wall, which gave the appearance of their just having put their heads through a curtain of cream!

The gallery is attractively designed and laid out, both within and without. It was originally established in 1912, in Johannesburg, and moved to this purposely designed and constructed building in 1980. The sculpture courtyards and indigenous gardens draw the outdoors in, creating a beautifully inviting space for visitors from all walks of life.

The website is well worth a visit, and contains a list of the artists who have exhibited, with a short biography and example of their work.

Acknowledge the beauty that lives within you – and have the courage to set it free

Operating hours:
Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm
Saturday 9am to 1pm

For further information follow the links alongside.

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