She wears many hats: Regal. Resilient. Radiant.

Exhibitions for Women’s Day across three venues from 7 August – 3 September 2023
Freshford House Museum: She wears many hats: REGAL
National Museum, Bloemfontein: She wears many hats: RESILIENT
Oliewenhuis Art Museum: She wears many hats: RADIANT

Anastasia Pather, 2019, Jasmine the Blister Beetle, Acrylic ink, enamel, glue, metallic powders and gold leaf on canvas, 122 x 91.4cm (framed). ArtbankSA Contemporary Art Collection.

In celebration of Women’s Month, different Departments of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, collaborated to curate exhibitions that are on show across three museum venues; Freshford House Museum, the National Museum and Oliewenhuis Art Museum. These exhibitions, although having distinctive slants, share similar themes and content, and aim to create fresh and original visual showcases by combining a variety of historical hats with contemporary and classical artworks. This exciting amalgamation of artworks and beautifully made artefacts, curated by three female curators, was mindfully selected from the art collections of the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Art Bank of South Africa and textiles from the Collections Management and Library Department.

The She wears many hats exhibitions, doesn’t just literally refer to holding or functioning in more than one position or role, but also reflects on intangible human qualities of being (rather than doing or acting), such as being regal, being resilient and being radiant. The artworks and artefacts, representing the female in various ways, shows both the physical and exterior as well as the abstract and inner qualities associated with the female and the feminine.

“They say you could tell what was on her mind by what was on her head” (unknown source).

At Freshford hats from different eras (1880-1970) along with a small selection of artwork are on show. The artwork and hats were handpicked to celebrate the multifaceted woman but also the beauty and uniqueness of womanhood. The exhibition intends to salute women who effortlessly switch between the various roles they fulfil in society. A woman with many hats symbolises modern women’s refusal to be caged by societal expectations and norms.  We would like to once more inspire women to break boundaries, pursue their dreams and embrace the beauty of being a woman.

 “If you like the hat, wear it…” (unknown source).

The exhibition at Oliewenhuis aims to be a pleasurable and inspiring sensory experience, evoking feelings of lightheartedness, playfulness, sweetness, with a touch of melancholy.

Artworks were chosen intuitively by how closely it resonates with, and expresses both physically and ambiently the concept of radiance- females and things and nature being radiant. It is interesting how the concept unfolds – ideologies of feminine radiance are suddenly an encompassing, universal presence, even Mother Nature gifts us with radiance, beauty and energy.

Artworks and artefacts, visually describing and radiating a feminine presence of softness, resilience, strength, beauty, flow and feeling were included to celebrate the lighter side of the feminine. Hopefully, this exhibition inspires all participants to internally integrate and outwardly express this beautiful energy of intuition, creativity and compassion, to ease the hardships and alleviate the heavy burdens that is part of life.

Freshford House Museum is located at 31 Kellner Street, Westdene, Bloemfontein and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 16:30, Saturdays between 10:00 and 15:00, and closed on Sundays and public holidays. The National Museum, Bloemfontein is located at 36 Aliwal Street, Bloemfontein and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 9:00 and 16:30, Saturdays between 10:00 and 15:00, and closed on Sundays and public holidays. Oliewenhuis Art Museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00, and on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays between 09:00 and 16:00.

For more information on Oliewenhuis Art Museum please contact the Museum at 051 011 0525 (ext 200) or and for more information on Freshford House Museum and the National Museum, Bloemfontein please visit

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Phumulani Ntuli, Homage to Ghassan Kanafani, A hand in the grave, Scene two, Subject unknown II, 2019, Mixed media collage – acrylic paint, photographic transfer on unstretched canvas, 100 X 750


Audrey Anderson, City square Meal (JHB), 2020, Ink on canvas, 100 x 100 cm. ArtbankSA Contemporary Art Collection

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