THE DATE: Tuesday 10th May 2016
VENUE: KwaMuhle Museum, Bram Fischer Road [Ordnance Road] Durban.
TIME: Meeting commences at 17h30; Refreshments will be served from 16h45.
PARKING: Off Bram Fischer/Ordnance road [next to the Museum]; security person is present
FEATURE: Shakespeare died 400 years ago on 23rd April 1616. As its way of celebrating his life and ongoing and enormous contribution to the English language and literature, the society is delighted to welcome guest presenter Professor Deborah Lutge from the Durban University of Technology to talk about Shakespeare. After a brief historical introduction Deborah Lutge will show members how as a director Deborah frequently works with African interpretations of Shakespearean works. Without telling her story DUT recently presented an African interpretation of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at an international Shakespeare Festival in Germany where the play presented by Durban and KwaZulu Natalian young actor’s received tumultuous applause and a standing ovation not just at the end of the performance but also as they left the theatre itself. And for those of us privileged to have seen the performance we can completely understand how the audience was so enamoured and enthralled.
Daphne Strutt Memorial Prize – Leandi Mulder 2016 Winner
For many years the society has awarded a prize to the top second year fashion student at DUT. However the rules for this were laid down when it was a two year course and prior to the establishment of DUT. Today this course takes four years so Myra Boyes asked Sunthra Moodley at DUT to discuss with her staff whether a rule change was needed. We were advised, ‘No please keep the status quo’.
Last year the society gave away its last copy of Daphne Strutt’s definitive work Fashion in South Africa but some internet searching by Myra found three copies in sound condition so these were quickly purchased.
Leandi Mulder was the top second year student in 2015 so it was with immense pleasure that we gave Leandi her prize of R1500 as well as one of the recently purchased books. Leandi then gave a short thank you address which certainly confirmed that the right recipient had once again won.
April Meeting Report Back – Generals-Admirals & Statesmen of the Great War by Robin Smith – Three Paintings which were rehung in the National Portrait Gallery in 2014
It is impossible to do justice to Robin who once again presented members and our many guests with a thoroughly researched essay about these three towering paintings. We followed the saga of how Sir Abe Bailey, at that time possibly the richest man on earth and great statesman in his own right, had commissioned the paintings. We heard how different artists had been asked and sometimes ‘persuaded’ to undertake what was after all a huge commission. We learned how different sketches and photographs had been used to create what in this audience’s view looked a reasonable setting. Bailey paid £5000.00 for each of the paintings which at the time was a considerable sum. One of the paintings had deteriorated really badly and we saw how it was painstakingly restored. This was a major achievement for the canvas was actually torn, the paint grubby and the picture generally not fit for purpose. But restoration experts brought it back to life.
General Officers of World War I
The first painting which today is known as, General Officers of World War I, was painted by John Singer Sargent. Sargent had originally refused the commission and found it difficult to find a suitable composition for so many full-length portraits. The painting is considered by some as unsatisfactory, with 22 men in khaki uniforms standing like pillars in a crowd in front of an anonymous brownish void, possibly an open doorway, with the bases of fluted pillars to either side. Sargent himself described it as “painting them all standing up in a vacuum”.
The 22 were chosen from around 1500 but whilst the generals are mostly British, people with links to the Dominions of the time will recognise the representatives from the British Empire who were included: Field Marshal Smuts, General Botha and Major-General Lukin from South Africa, Generals Currie and Dobell from Canada, General Monash from Australia, and Major-General Russell from New Zealand.
Historians will doubtless hold a different and somewhat warmer view of this 3 m x 5.3 m record from WW1.
Click link for more information which includes a detailed list of the officers who were included: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Officers_of_World_War_I
Admirals which is actually named Naval Officers of World War I
Naval Officers of World War I is a large oil on canvas painting by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope, completed in 1921. It was commissioned to commemorate the Royal Navy officers who commanded British fleets in the First World War. Cope’s painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition in 1921 and donated to the National Portrait Gallery that year.
The painting measures 2.64 × 5.14 m. It depicts 22 senior officers of the Royal Navy who served during the First World War. Cope worked from sketches of each subject, and set them in the wood-panelled Admiralty Board Room at the Old Admiralty Building in Whitehall. There is a wind dial on one wall, with paintings of naval scenes to either side. On the wall to the left is a portrait of Horatio Nelson near a group of three officers who were killed in action during the war:
The painting is held by the National Portrait Gallery but had not been exhibited for several decades due to its poor condition. After restoration, it went back on display in May 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of the First World War.
Statesmen of World War I
Because of illness Sir James Guthrie was only able to complete this third and final painting just prior to his death in 1930. The story of how the artist created it also differs from that of the other two works because Guthrie first painted portraits of the individuals in 1919 and 1920. Guthrie then fell ill which was the reason the work was not completed until a decade later. These portraits now hang in the Scottish Portrait Gallery.
Like the other works commissioned by Sir Abe Bailey this painting was to commemorate the politicians and statesmen of Britain and its allies who held office during the First World War.
Follow the link to learn more about Statesmen of WWI and who is portrayed: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statesmen_of_World_War_I
Members Bring and Buy Book Sales
The experiment of bringing books for sale seemed well received with sellers and the society benefitting. But being a trial run there was room for improvement so at the next meeting members selling books will see that Myra Boyes has introduced a system to prevent confusion. Books must be priced before going on display and details recorded.
The standard of catering this year which is in Joan Widdowson’s very capable hands has been truly outstanding and we are extremely grateful to those members who consistently help. It would be of immense assistance to Joan if just two or three more volunteers put up hands to assist. Please give her a call on 031 564 8105 if you can do so. And it’s not meant to be gourmet just simple fare for late afternoon.
Longtime member Auriel Mitchley is leaving Durban for a retirement home in Pietermaritzburg and bade everyone farewell during the April meeting. We will miss both your cheerful presence and wonderful name tags at our monthly meetings and wish you a long, happy and healthy stay in that inland city, Auriel.
Click to download a pdf version of the May Newsletter: SANS Newsletter 2016 05 May