Newsletter February 2012

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Wednesday, 1st February 2012

The Walter Battiss Exhibition, Blown in from the East; curated by Sanlam's Stefan Hundt; and comprising 35 Battiss artworks on loan from the Walter Battiss Art Museum in Somerset East; drew a lot of attention during the six days of the Suidoosterfees in Capetown. The paintings, watercolours, screenprints, drawings and a tapestry were displayed in the Marble Foyer of the Artscape Theatre complex; formerly the Nico Malan Theatre.

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The opening on Tuesday 14th February was attended by over 100 invited guests, including Prof. Jakes Gerwel, Dr Niel le Roux, David Kramer, and Battiss's son Giles Battiss. Prof. Gerwel; born in Somerset East; and chairman of the Suidoosterfees; made the opening remarks. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the 30 year anniversary, in August 2012, of the death of Battiss in 1982, at the age of 76. Music Battiss was known to be fond of was performed during the opening.

Over the subsequent five days, many people viewed the collection; some of them coming to the venue specially to see it, and some of them having a look around while they waited to go into the theatres to see the shows which were part of the Suidoosterfees. It was obvious that those attending Mimi Coertse's 80th birthday concert were far more likely to be Battiss fans than the crowd there to see Casper de Vries! As always, there were the people who don't "get" Battiss's art, but they were heavily outnumbered by those who expressed delight at being able to see the collection which has been in Somerset East since 1981. Somerset East and the Blue Crane Route were promoted, and we can expect to see visitors coming to our area as a result of this event.

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A huge added bonus from this initiative is that Sanlam, who generously funded the loan, packing, transport and insurance of the Battiss collection are restoring, repairing and cleaning the paintings; all very necessary, and totally beyond the budget of the Battiss Museum.

Friends of the Somerset East Museum will be holding another of their very popular Country Markets in the lovely Museum grounds on Saturday 14th April, so if you are planning a trip to Somerset East, this would be a very good time to come. There will be a tea and coffee garden, stylish food to take away or eat in the spacious, shady grounds, and many stalls selling quality home, farm and garden produce, as well as local crafts.

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