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2016 BAT Calendar and the book launch, Ukukhulisa celebrates the 22 years since the calendar was first published and distributed to the communities together with the story of how each one came about.

DIRTY LINEN. 25 meters of washing line hung with many sheets imprinted with the pictures of buildings and places especially constructed to keep the black population harnessed. Reimagining the Kitchen suit.

Taking a clue from the above exhibition the fashion department of the Durban university of technology selected the infamous kitchen suit a standard demeaning uniform for black people who worked in urban residences and reinvented it as a high fashion garment that shows its middle finger to those who distributed them to their workers.’

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THE THIN RED LINE. This was the Phansi Collections’ reply to the above two exhibitions. On the other side of that same insulting Red Line stood many of the wearers to whom this outfit was seen as a passport to the city, a place of knowledge, fortune and excitement. It was usually the bravest from home that would be prepared to face this foreign world.

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Also a Thin Red Line Exhibition,the exhibition centers around Body Art, the fashions, the adornments, the hairstyles and more.

Everything about the people in a little North West corner of Namibia.

Some reach deep into the fashion well of the Wilhelmina Germans who had done the most dreadful things to them – to those from the same Herero language group who insist on making themselves beautiful in their ancient ways and others keep a constant lookout for amazing discards to be formed and adapted to make their own proud statements.


Closed on Saturday, 24 September 2016

South Africa has a thriving cultural heritage of wire & wood sculpture and art.  This exhibition highlights a selection of  excellent examples of works from the Permanent Collection of the Phansi Museum and items loaned from friends of the Museum.  Sculptors include Philemon Sangweni, Raphael Magwaza, Carl Roberts, Noria Mabasa, Johannes Maswangani, Zamukwake Gumede and and wire work from Thapiwa Musani, Thulani Mchunu, Ntombifuthi Magwaza, Elliot Mkhize and  Zenzulu.

Wire and Wood Invite-

Wire and Wood Exhibition

Wire and Wood Exhibition



One of the most admired contributions the Bartel Arts Trust and the Phansi Museum have made to the enrichment of the cultural life in KwaZulu-Natal is the annual Art • Craft • Tradition calendar.  This annual publication, now in its 22nd year of production will be officially launched on Wednesday, 7 December 2016.  Each year, the Museum distributes 1 000’s of calendars to schools in cities, villages and in faraway rural areas, clinics, libraries, community centres and educational institutions across the province.

The 2017 calendar features panels from the 1992 Universal Declaration of Rights and the 1994 Interim Bill of Rights murals painted on the surfaces of the east and south walls surrounding the former Central Prison in Durban.  Both these murals laid the foundations for the 1997 Human Rights Mural of the Final Constitution.  Just as the Rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Interim Bill of Rights inspired the drafters of the Final Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution of 1996, so the works of the artists of the 1992 and 1994 murals came to inspire the artists who painted the 1997 Human Rights mural.

Whilst the rest of the world commemorates International Human Rights Day and the 68th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 on 10 December 2016, the Phansi Museum will celebrate the launch of the Human Rights Mural Calendar of 2017 three days earlier.  The 2017 Human Rights Mural calendar aptly also pays tribute to late Terry-Anne Stevenson, (1950 –  2016) who initiated the Community Mural Projects and who tirelessly mustered the artists in Durban including Thami Jali, Sfiso Ka Mkame, Derick Nxumalo, Zamani Makhanya, Sibusiso Duma, Lalelani Mbhele and Joseph Manana to interpret the Bill of Rights on the prison walls and transform the streets of Durban with paint.

Finally, to coincide with the launch of the calendar and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Phansi Museum in collaboration with Community Mural Projects, the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal and Street Law will launch the Human Rights Art and Essay Competition for learners in Grades 7, 11 and 12.  The objective of this competition is to get learners from as many schools in KwaZulu-Natal who see the calendar to illustrate their vision and understanding of our Human Rights.

The calendars for 2017 in poster and desktop format will be available from the Phansi Museum and other retail outlets from 7 December 2016

Other Roots final

Other Roots

 A pop up exhibition of Indian Textiles at Phansi Museum

Thursday, 26 January 2016 – Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Phansi Museum kicks of the year with an intimate Pop Up Exhibition of a selection of handmade embroidered and beaded textiles from Northern India.  This private collection on loan to the Phansi Museum is about roots, who you are and where you come from.  If you are South African you may have Zulu, Nguni, Sotho or Pondo roots, or your roots may reach as far back to Holland or England or a mixture of those roots.  Phansi Museum illustrates that art has its roots in the world of the bantu, the ancient and the transitional.  This exhibition will allow visitors the opportunity of looking at other roots.  Snippets of the magnificent textiles of northern India, like Gujurat, Kush, IIadak, Nepal, Bhutan and Thailand.

Invitation to an exhibition by Dina Cormick at Phansi Museum

New work by local artist Dina Cormick

  “A QUESTION OF BALANCE:  When all around is upside down”

Opening by EWOK 

25 February – 18 March 2017

The public is invited to celebrate the work of well know local sculptor, Dina Cormick.

Dina says her initial thinking on the approach to the theme of exhibition all began in a precarious position of uncertainty – to fall or not to fall – both options being equally depressing and gloomy.   Hence, in a crazy world, she elected to explore radical solutions, stretching to the outermost limits of credibility and possibility.  After all, she says, the only truth is the experience of the moment, awakening to a realization that one must risk everything to find equilibrium.

As can be seen in examples of her earlier work, Dina has always been fascinated by the interplay between the possible and the impossible in art.  For her she says, the most enthralling and challenging aspect of the creative process is releasing the waiting image, mysteriously concealed within the material and in this case, her chosen medium – wood.  Oftentimes says Dina, an artist has to relinquish preconceived expectations and trust simply in the wondrous exploration of creative imagination.

Dina says in her artist’s statement that an important, albeit tortuous, balancing is deciding when to stop working on a piece.   “I am caught between the dilemma of ‘finishing’ to a traditionally accepted degree of completion – waxed, shiny, no scratches or defects or presenting the artwork in the peak, raw moment of [for me] deepest expression – unwaxed, with evidence of the process and the tantalizing possibilities of incompletion.”

“Finally, the question of balance referred me to the archetype of the circus clown who puts the ups and downs of ‘life’ into perspective, who helps us laugh at our own idiosyncrasies, essentially to see things differently.”

Born in Nkana, Zambia and schooled in Harare, Zimbabwe, Dina studied art at Rhodes University, Grahamstown and at Durban University of Technology, Durban.   Since 1978 she has worked as free-lance artist from her studio in Durban.  Her commissioned artworks which, include wood sculptures, mosaic and ceramic panels can be found widely distributed throughout Southern Africa in ecumenical church institutions, as well as in numerous grassroots and socio-political organisations.  Her particular concern and interest lies in the didactic importance of art.  In 1992 she graduated cum- laude as a “Mistress” of Feminist Theological Ethics, after critically discussing the manner in which women have been imaged by the Christian Church.

Dina has participated in numerous group exhibitions and solo exhibitions in South Africa and abroad and has contributed to a number of collaborative printmaking portfolios, for example the Images of Human Rights Portfolio, an Artist for Human Rights project.   Dina’s work and her contribution to South African art is widely represented in national publications and in published and critical writings and her artwork graces the covers of numerous journals, magazines, brochures, calendars and posters.

The exhibition will be opened by EWOK on Saturday, 25 February 2017 at 10:00.  Refreshments will be served and entrance is free.


Human Rights Month celebrationsHuman Rights Celebration Exhibition – Celebrating the Art of Jane Makhubele.

23 March – 29 April 2017

 Phansi is proud to present the art of Jane and Billy Makhubele in tribute of South Africa’s Human Rights celebration, which remains enormously significant in South Africa. 

The Phansi has a collection of shawls from the Tsonga- Shangaan people of Limpopo.  These shawls, 1,5 meter by 1 meter in dimension of Indian cloth with the locally preferred design on a dark-blue background is chosen from the local trader and draped over the shoulders in the style of the community.

For special occasions a married woman wears a richly decorated shawl to proudly show off her status, artistic skill, inventiveness and beauty.   The favorite layout seems to be a horizontal panel filled with stories and patterns, bordered above and below by geometric designs and messages recording the name of the wearer, the address, and sometimes including the name of her husband who works far away.  Whatever is important in the wearer’s life at that time is often lovingly illustrated on the shawls. 

Authorities believe that the illustration of attire, began with the search of a local identity and slowly developed into great artistic endeavors from the 1950’s and onwards, when men spent many months away on the mines and returned laden with treasures from the urban markets where they gathered treasures and trinkets to bring back to the family at home. There they would embellish the garment to celebrate love, family, home and community.

When Billy Makhubele, a well- known wire sculptor from Duiwelskloof in Limpopo at the time, married his second wife Jane, she brought with her a great love of beadwork and craft and soon had the whole family making minceka (shawls) that were sold to the community.

In 1994 the momentous year in South African history their love for Mandela and the peaceful revolution resulted in the invention of a series of minceka that highlighted the iconic events during the first few years of change. Always enthusiastic newspaper readers they cut out the most spectacular events and Jane converted them into shawls of celebration and memory.  The Phansi is fortunate enough to have a few of these on exhibition for the public to enjoy. 

When viewing the minceka, it is evident that colour is used to express the pure joy and renewal of life or the momentous occasion.  The red powerful outline of Nelson Mandela for instance is the pumping heart, the blood, the passion, the new life.  Against a black background of reverence that speaks of the respect for the ancestors.  At home in KwaZulu Natal we would refer to the light blue surface as being the colour of the first, i.e. the first-born in the family.   The face is featureless because as tradition dictates, would be an insult to the grand occasion.   The white used in the pieces depicts the bones of those that come before and the gold represents the sun, the treasure of earth. 

Jane Makhubele says it all; Her words and colours tumble over each other in outbursts of wishes and dreams.


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