Warren Buffett is quoted as having said “today you’re sitting in the shade because twenty years ago someone planted a tree.” Well, seven decades ago a staff member at the Arts department of Wits received a R150 grant from the University to use as a teaching aid. She went on to spend the money on the beginnings of a collection that has since grown to include more than 9,000 works. In 1977, the Getrude Posel Gallery opened to become the collection’s first permanent home, but in 2002, when the University needed the space for student facilities a new locale was needed.
Within the University’s cultural precinct, on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Jorissen Street in Braamfontein, a modern new building with peripheral glass walls is the exciting new home for the Wits Art Museum. It boasts 5,000m2 of space over four floors. To celebrate the opening of the Museum on the 19th of May this year, an exhibition named WAM! Seeing Stars was opened - it features almost 400 pieces of extraordinary African art. Designed to celebrate and highlight the stars of the entire collection, you can see bronze sculptures by Sydney Kumalo, charcoal drawings by William Kentridge and photos by David Goldblatt.
In each gallery I visit there is a highlight that comes home with me, and I can never tell which one it’s going to be. Here, it was the delightful Swansong of a Sausage Dog by Bruce Arnott, and it’s my favourite work in the gallery just because it made me smile, go back to look at it again, and made the flu of the past week fade into the background on a cloud of whimsy!
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Image credits: All photography by me