UP Museums launch ‘Homage to Pretoria’ exhibition

Posted on May 21, 2024

In light of International Museum Day on 18 May, the University of Pretoria (UP) Museums recently launched the Homage to Pretoria exhibition. The event took place on Wednesday, 15 May at Javett-UP’s Bridge Gallery, a new space dedicated to the University’s permanent art collection.

Homage to Pretoria seeks to surface the complex and nuanced histories of Pretoria, and presents signature works predominantly drawn from the UP Museums’ institutional art collection. 

“Through the lens of the artists, we encourage visitors to contemplate the interplay between Pretoria’s narrative and the broader narrative of the country, and consider how each story has influenced and been influenced by the other,” said Uthando Baduza, curator of the UP Museums’ Art Galleries & Exhibitions division.

“The goal is to showcase some lesser-known artworks in the museum collections and their chemistry with other materialities such as ceramics, sculptures and other heritage collections within a university setting, paying homage to Pretoria, its people, and its natural and cultural landscapes,” added Dr Sian Tiley-Nel, Head of the UP Museums.

Dr Alastair Meredith, a senior art specialist at fine art auctioneers Strauss & Co, was the guest speaker at the launch and shared his extensive knowledge about paintings and artworks related to Pretoria.

“Dr Meredith has a wide-ranging knowledge of early 20th-century South African and British paintings, which makes him a fitting expert for the launch of this beautiful exhibition,” said UP Registrar Professor Caroline Nicholson, who hosted the exhibition opening.

The artworks are curated over 170 years and were drawn from a wide selection of leading artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. They include JH Pierneef, Frans Oerder, H Pennington and Pieter Wenning, as well as more contemporary artists such as Michael Mmutle, Lucky Sibiya, Elizabeth Rampa, Peter Sibeko and Paul Ramagaga. The selected artworks are unique, educational and research-based, and stem from the permanent UP Museums collection in partnership with other heritage collections on campus such as the Herbarium, Art Archive, UP Archives, Botanical Gardens and Architecture Archive.

The exhibited works were selected on the basis of subject matter, social or political commentary, landscape or identity, or reflect architecture that pays homage to Pretoria as a city and is representative of the South African state and condition. A central theme in the exhibition is the making and creation of the city, highlighting Pretoria as a capital city and  showcasing some of the earliest artworks of the Union Buildings since 1910.

The exhibition is open to the public until 16 December 2024.

“We encourage all patrons, guests, students, businesses and partners, and the wider Pretoria community to visit the gallery not only for the Homage to Pretoria exhibition, but also for other exhibitions and galleries curated by the UP Museums,” Dr Tiley-Nel said. “University museums play a crucial role in cultural exchange and the enrichment of societies, and UP has a wide-range of artworks that highlight this social role.”

- Author Mmaradikesa Prudance Minyuku

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