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Design centre open its doors to help local artisans

February 20, 2011

By NIKITA GELDENHUYS on February 18,2011
MBABANE – Swazi artists and artisans will soon be able to exhibit their art to buyers from across the globe through a new Design Centre initiative.

Proud Swazis Peter and Aleta Armstrong are the creators of the soon-to-open Yebo Art and Design centre, where artists will get the chance to exhibit their work in the gallery space or on the centre’s internet site.

The centre, which is located past the Town Board offices in Ezulwini, will be opened on February 26 and will feature a stunning first exhibition titled ‘The Year of the Rabbit’, which will feature works from 30 local artists.

Armstrong said the idea behind the centre is to create a permanent space where the work of local designers and fine artists can be promoted.

“Yebo Art and Design Centre is a venue that gives the public constant access to contemporary art in Swaziland and our vision is to help to create a professional local artists and designers and in uncovering and developing the amazing hidden talent we have in Swaziland.”

Three training and production workshops will be running at the centre, Aleta explained.

She said workshop discipline will range from learning skills for fine art and design to craft skills for jewellery design.

Armstrong also said the centre will also be open to government departments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who need to train individuals as part of income-generating projects.

Concept

“Yebo Art and Design organisation is vital to exposing Swazi society to fine art. A gallery like this can open people’s eyes to what contemporary art is about. It can show the youth there is money to make in the arts,” she said.

A consultant for the department of Arts and Culture in the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, Khulekane Msweli, said he was ‘blown away’ when he first heard of the concept of Yebo Art and Design. “Yebo is a good thing for the arts and culture sector. There are not enough platforms and training for artists in Swaziland,” Msweli said.

He said the ministry is interested in using the Yebo centre for training. According to him, a directory of artists and artisans has recently been created which will enable NGOs and sponsors to connect with artists. He said sponsors can use platforms like Yebo to support developing artists.

“The ministry is in full support of the concept. It has not been decided if the ministry will sponsor artists as well. The greatest hindrance at the moment is financing programmes such as these. We are scouting for NGOs to fund artisans,” Msweli said.

He said artists who want to become part of the directory should go to the department’s Arts and Culture Office in Room 211 on the Second Floor of Bhunu Mall. Alternatively artists can call 2505 4437.

Armstrong said the gallery will open on February 26. Once the gallery is open, investors will be able to order artworks from the centre. The art gallery, with free entrance, will be open to schools and will offer workshops for the public on weekends.

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