Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Art, journalism and astronomy

This is a random selection of images for preservation in the cloud. But each has a story, which I tell in the captions.

This is the only photo I have of my final year work in the composition painting exam which I did for my National Diploma in Art and Design at the East London Technical College Art School under Jack Lugg. I had myself worried as I did this work in 1977. I was such a political animal, working regularly for the liberal Progressive Federal Party, I felt compelled to paint something reflecting the June 1976 student uprising, which began in Soweto but swept across the country. My composition needed some spark, which on the final day or two of the week-long exam I provided as I took a palette knife to the thing and injected some ethereal elements which, in a way, I believe, reflect the young souls lost in this conflict between the oppressed black SA youth and the might of the military and police. I also had two years of conscription hanging over my head, so my distaste for the men, in firing squad formation on the right, is perhaps understandable. I've included shacks and mine dumps and falling red figures on the left. Looking at it today, it seems more reflective of the turbulent 1980s, or even the Marikana massacre under ANC rule in 2013. The more things in SA change, the more they stay the same.

For figure painting I did probably my most complete realistic painting. This too took a week. What I most enjoy about it is the background. I think I captured the pose quite well, but the easels, door and walls of the painting studio bring back happy times as a student at the art school.

This cartoon hung in the Herald subs' room for decades. It disappeared during a refurbishment in the early 2000s. Luckily I had made photocopies of it, which I have combined here. On the back was a caption, stating that these were "Sub-editors of the Eastern Province Herald, 1949-50". They are, from left, "Les Jones, retired Herald racing editor; Hendrik Wannenburg, retired chief sub-editor of the Evening Post in the 1970s; Bill Chadwick, chief sub-editor of the Herald (died in office in the mid-1950s); Dick Clarke, who drew the cartoon and later is believed to have occupied a senior post on the BBC. On the floor: Ed Williams, retired chief sub-editor of the Herald in the 1960s." The message is clear and remains true today. A newspaper, unlike the internet, is a finite product. You have to choose carefully what stories to use and how to use them. 

My grandfather, Joseph Clifford Bentley, with the telescope he brought to Port Elizabeth as chairman of the PE People's Astronomical Society. He was company secretary at PE Tramways in the mid-20th century.

No comments:

Post a Comment