For Some the Pathway to Education Lies Between Thorns’ a solo art exhibition of Peter E. Clarke’s work Springs Art Gallery in partnership with William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG) is proud to present a solo exhibition of the renowned South African artist, writer and poet Peter E. Clarke (1929-2014), opens on Saturday, 25 November 2023, at 12h00 and entrance is free.

The exhibition, titled For Some the Pathway to Education Lies Between Thorns, showcases Clarke’s linocut and woodcut prints, rarest paintings and watercolour drawings that explore the themes of education, space and social justice.

Clarke was born in Simon’s Town, a naval town near Cape Town, and grew up under the oppressive apartheid regime. He was forced to relocate to Ocean View, a designated area for coloured people, in 1972. Despite the hardships and discrimination, he faced, he pursued his artistic passion and became one of the most influential and celebrated artists in South Africa and abroad.

In 2005 he was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) by President Thabo Mbeki for Excellence in the fields of arts and literature, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, among other recognitions.

In light of the current state of affairs at the majority of the nation’s higher educational institutions, which include numerous protests by students expressing their discontent with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) the WHAG will host an exhibition of a number of Clarke’s pieces that examine the subject of education and how it relates to the challenging realities of life. This exhibition promises to be a celebration of Clarke’s distinctive vision. Clarke’s works are renowned for their capacity to capture the beauty and dignity of daily life.

Though the titled artwork for this exhibition was made in 2008, the inspiration came to him earlier in his career while visiting a rural village. Over a decade ago when his work was exhibited at Rivington Place in partnership with the Institute for International Visual Arts Clarke was quoted as saying:

‘I’ve been interested in space for a very long time, since early childhood in fact. Not only that kind of space, but also the spaces that separate people. The spaces that people have to traverse. In this particular work, what inspired this one was the fact that in South Africa, in the rural areas there’s a great deal of having to walk to school. Often children travel long distances every day. Going to school and traveling back afterwards. When I for instance spent a while in a village called Tesselaarsdal in the earlier part of my career there was one group of children who walked five miles to school in the morning and then walked the five miles back after school. So I was seeking out the difficulties involved in gaining an education. And so the title eventually came to me for this particular one, ‘For Some the Pathway to Education Lies Between Thorns’.”

Clarke cared a lot about education and always encouraged young and old to empower themselves through informal and formal learning, despite his generation being denied such privileges under apartheid. Looking at the state of schools in rural villages in South Africa today, not much has changed. People in the rural villages still face real difficulties such as the lack of classrooms, poor access to services such as water and electricity, no Internet connectivity, and very few public or school libraries.

This exhibition national traveling exhibition which initially premiered at William Humphreys Art Gallery will afford the people of the City of Ekurhuleni the opportunity to enjoy Peter Clarke’s over six decades of work shown collectively in a solo presentation. It reminds us to remind all of us to ensure that the path to education is given attention for the advancement of equal life for all.

His distinctive style seamlessly blends traditional techniques with contemporary aesthetics, resulting in captivating pieces that provoke thought and evoke a deep sense of connection. Through his artistic endeavours, Peter E. Clarke captivated audiences, leaving an enduring legacy that challenges, inspires, and celebrates the beauty of the human spirit.

This exhibition project, forms part of number of partnerships/ collaboration programmes implemented between the SRAC Department of the City of Ekurhuleni’s Visual Arts and Galleries Section, artists, art groups and institutions from the City of Ekurhuleni and beyond.

The exhibition is curated by WHAG’s Chief Curator, Chepape Makgato and City of Ekurhuleni’s Visual Arts Curators, Thabo Sekoaila and Nomcebo Sithole. The selection of work will be on display at the Springs Art Gallery from 25 November 2023 until 27 January 2024. The art gallery is open Monday through Friday, 9am – 4pm for public viewing (closed on Sundays and public holidays).

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