We just love the Carinus exhibition launch at the National Arts Festival. It is an even anticipated with an equally high level of excitement by Festinos and Grahamstown art lovers alike. It’s a place to catch up, be seen and engage in stimulating conversation with artists and friends alike, the evening’s fever pitch not entirely at odds with the tidal wave cresting upon the dawn of the 2016 National Arts Festival.

The thing we love the most about the Carinus launch is the easy conversation we get to have with our favourite artists about their work. We can most definitely anticipate the high calibre of art with which the Carinus exhibitors are synonymous, but the element of surprise is always within the themes of their individual displays. We’re know you’re just dying to get your hands on an original art piece by one of these wonderful artists

Reflections is a solo exhibition by Tori Stowe – a collection of intricate drawings done in charcoal, ink and collage. “In preparing for this exhibition I consciously started over – imagining a series of self portraits that would create a map on my own singular identity. I hoped to find someone inside myself,” said Tori. “Within days I had forgotten to draw what I had planned in the excitement of finding new ways to draw what I have always drawn. Wherever I walked plants stretched out to me and once drawn on the page they grew into animals.” Working through an endless stream of imagery and trails of consciousness she has created a reflection of herself, the natural world around her and the possibility of what could be.

Ceramicist Richard Pullen describes his preparation for National Arts Festival as a process of finally beginning to find his feet. After 18 years he says his growing confidence in his technique has allowed him to put a lot more personal expression into his work. “It’s about working out where you really want to be,” said Richard whose newer work using a separated glaze has given his expression through shape and texture.

Peter Midlane’s etchings and paintings bring a larger-than-life vibrancy to the gallery space that is expected of this well-loved artist. His Eastern Cape landscapes evoke the thorny beauty of our countryside and the peaceableness of its inhabitants, while a series of animal portraits portray the integral part in the life of a family that our loyal canine companions play. The portrait of Ben, an Airedale Terrier, particularly gives us the feels.

Ceramicist Charmaine Haines keeps us continually intrigued with the sculptural forms that figurative clay assumes under her creative hands, embellished with vivid and colourful symbols and motifs. This is work that has to be seen to realise the full expressive impact of coloured stains and natural oxide washes on a richly carve and textured clay surface.

The equally talented Martin Haines, a studio potter, has brought a stylish collective of decorative ceramic cats which, although they look they got the cream, are just dying to find a perch with a view in your home. Everybody loves cats don’t they? And these are cats you won’t be able to take your eyes from. Or you could choose from a stunning collection of decorative flatware and tiles.

If you haven’t seen a Stidy cartoon, you haven’t lived. But did you know that this well-known cartoonist is also a writer and an artist? Giving over to exploring his artistic talents once more, Anthony Stidolph’s series of gorgeous landscapes are designed to set you dreaming of an escape to the countryside.

He shares his exhibition space with his talented sisters, both successful and much loved artists in their own right. Nicky Rosselli’s ink and charcoal drawings of animals have been a lifelong exploration of the farm animals so familiar to her as a child growing up in Zimbabwe. Her landscapes explore an environment that is harsh and extreme, yet at the same time beautiful through colour, shape, abstract forms, mood and drama.

Sally Scott needs no introduction to Grahamstown and her gallery space is filled with a fascinating collection of landscapes and fibre art. Nurtured by the freedom of a childhood in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and continued adventures into the wilderness areas of Southern Africa, her  landscape paintings carry the detail of vegetation and terrain and the atmospheric moods of South Africa that simply make you feel like home.

Sandy Diogo’s painting style brings a unique and lively immediacy to her work. Her paintings are peaceful, gentle and spiritual, unique pieces that portray emotion and feeling. She also has lively ceramic creations on display.

Monique Wiffen Rorke is a photographer and digital artist who has combined her mediums in a fascinating exploration of textures and the photographic surface. “I have physically transformed the surfaces of some photographs, attempting to see how much information is retained or leftover after the surface is pulled off, fragmented and reassembled,” she said “It brings to mind the way in which we remember and forget; which impressions last and which fade away.”

Roxandra Dardigan Britz is a graphic artist who specialises in printmaking and works in a range of media from traditional etching to digital media and performance art.

The Carinus Exhibition is open daily from 9am to 5pm for the duration of the National Arts Festival.

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