As the economic outlook for Africa is looking positive and the growth of Contemporary African Art in the west is on the rise. I divert my attention to the source of Contemporary African Art, to explore the artistic offerings from different African countries by looking into the art fairs and festivals that take place on the continent.
I like to acknowledge the heterogeneity of the African continent, as a result, I am compiling a list of art fairs and festivals from some countries in the four cardinal points of Africa to be featured in a number of blog posts. So if you are planning on visiting Africa, here is an opportunity to incorporate one or more of these art and culture events in the countries I will be covering, starting with the southern part of Africa.
The South African Art market is one of the most matured art markets in Africa and until recently it was the only country in Africa that sold art works at auctions that exceeded a million US dollars. South Africa has produced Visual Artists who have gained both national and international recognition for their work, such as old masters Irma Stern from Cape town and contemporary artist Jane Alexander from Johannesburg.
Cape Town, a popular tourist destination, thanks to its great attractions which include table mountain, Blouberg beach and numerous vineyards. Cape Town is also known for its vibrant art scene, whether you are interested in South African masters or contemporary artists, there will be something that meets your taste, some of which will be showcased at the Cape Town Art Fair.
The Cape Town Art Fair takes place during the African Art and Design Week, so there will be a lot of creative offerings during this period in Cape Town. Thirty two galleries attended the last fair, predominately from Africa and a few from Europe. The Art fair also included non-profit establishments and a programme on Art in public places. Below is an image from the 2014 fair.
The last Cape Town Art Fair took place between 26th Feb – 1st March 2015 at the the Avenue, V & A Waterfront 2016 dates are yet to be confirmed
Johannesburg is next on my list. The largest city in South Africa and the world’s largest city not situated on a river, lake, or coastline. Jo’Burg is known more for its economic status and not its tourist attractions. But it does have a few interesting cultural sites such as The Museum of Africa covering the history of the city of Johannesburg, Johannesburg Art Gallery, featuring South African and European landscape and figurative paintings. The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage Site, about 50Km northwest of Johannesburg. Johannesburg made the Top 10 cities short list for its Arts and culture in The Rough Guides.
FNB Joburg Art Fair is billed as the first international art fair in Africa and plays vital role in supporting the growth of contemporary arts across the continent. The Fair provides a platform for artists, galleries, collectors, writers, thinkers and art lovers to meet. The Fair will take place during the Johannesburg Art Week. During this week, there will be talks and presentations where galleries, museums, arts organisations and artists will bring the city alive by focusing on bringing the vibrant art scene to the public. The Art week is supported by the Gauteng Tourism Authority (GTA) and Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).
The next Johannesburg Art Fair takes place from 11th – 13th September 2015 at Sandton Convention Centre 161 Maude St Sandton, 2196
Grahamstown is in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated about 110 Km northeast of Port Elizabeth with major tourist attractions within its vicinity. According to the Grahamstown Hospitality Guild there are a number of beautiful day trip destinations, one can visit which include the seaside towns of Kenton-on-Sea (52 km), the arts and crafts hub of Bathurst (40 km). Grahamstown is home to The National Arts Festival, which sees the population of the town increase significantly during this annual celebration.
The National Arts Festival is one of the largest Arts festival in Africa and sees some of the leading artist in South Africa and participants from the international art scene arrive in Grahamstown to celebrate culture and artistic expression. The festival will satisfy every creative quest with its offerings in visual arts, performing arts, dance, music, theatre, film for both adults and children. The 2014 event, which marked the National Arts Festival 40th anniversary included Street parades, over 2800 performances by international performers from over 40 countries, with a record of over 225,000 visitors during the eleven day period.
The festival takes place at a number of venues in Grahamstown. The organizers will be operating a Festival “hop on hop off” bus service around Grahamstown during the Festival, which will allow visitors to visit the different venues and attend the creative events around town. The next Festival is bound to be an amazing creative experience. For more information visit the website, which provides detailed information on how to get the Grahamstown, accommodation, tickets and event itineraries of the festival.
Photo credit: Courtesy Facebook National Art Festival
The next National Arts Festival takes place from 2nd – 12th of July 2015
Next on my list is the neighbouring country to South Africa, Zimbabwe. Although Zimbabwe may be known for some of its negative publicity, it is home to one of the great wonders of the natural world, Victoria falls. It is also the destination for Hwange National Park, the largest game reserve in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean art scene is going through a revival, after the economic downtown. The national Gallery of Zimbabwe has been making a world presence, by participating in the last two Venice Art Biennale with the aim to showcase Zimbabwean artistic talent and promoting a positive image of the country. Zimbabwe is known for its stone sculptures around the world, but more recently has produced renown international contemporary artist like Kudzanai Chiurai Chiurai, Misheck Masamvu, Virginia Chihota.
Harare is the capital of Zimbabwe and home to one of the national Gallery of Zimbabwe museums and First Floor Gallery Harare, Zimbabwe’s first independent international contemporary emerging artist run gallery are worth a visit. Other attractions include the Queen Victoria Museum , the 58-hectare National Botanic Gardens, a wildlife sanctuary or the Mukuvisi Woodlands Environmental Centre, where zebras and giraffes roam freely. The Mukuvisi Woodlands Environmental is only 7km from the city. For more sights in Harare click here. Harare is also home to one of the biggest art festivals in the world HIFA.
HIFA (Harare International Arts Festival) encompasses theatre, music, dance, fine art, poetry, circus, street performance, fashion workshop and talks, which provides visitors with a good mix to choose from. HIFA is a six day event, held at different locations with visitors and performers from all over the world. As reported by NewsDay , the 2014 event saw 1006 Zimbabwean artists and 239 artists from outside the country perform at the event. HIFA has been rated as one of the top 10 festivals in the world in a survey carried by CNN. Visit the HIFA website for programme information.
Photo credit: Courtesy Festivalcrush
The next HIFA takes place from 28th April – 3rd May 2015
Other Fairs and Festivals in Zimbabwe
There are a number of other festivals worth mentioning that takes place in Zimbabwe. These include the Harare Jazz Festival which also takes place in April. April 18th is the Zimbabwe independence day, as a result, a number of celebratory events and festivals takes place in the month of April. There is the Zimbabwe Film Festival in August and for book lovers, the international book fair in July. For a full list of major festival and events from Jan – Dec click here
I look forward to attending HIFA this year. Will you be joining me? Please comment and feel free to suggest other art events taking place in Africa.
Look out for my post on International art fairs and more Art fairs and Festivals in Africa or better still subscribe to jonaquestart art and travel blog to get interesting posts on my creative voyage delivered to your mailbox.
Bye for now.