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Etching is a winning art

Diminutive Joan Hassan, a fourth year Fine Arts student, was the surprised and elated winner of the Martienssen Prize for the best independantly created artwork at the University last month.

A panel of judges consisting of all the Fine Arts department lecturers chose Joan's etching "Flowers by choice" from a number of works submitted by second, third and fourth-year students.

Professor Alan Crump, head of the Fine Arts department, opened the exhibition and awarded the prizes.

"The turgid quality of today's society can produce excellent work", said Professor Crump.

Two second prizes were awarded to Karen Bloom who submitted a large colourful oil painting and Kim Gray whose zany drawings attracted a lot of comment.

"Flowers by choice", depicts a ferocious dog enmeshed in a background of delicate pink flowers. It is a complex, multi-plate colour etching which combines figurative and decorative motifs.

"Dogs have played a major part in my work for the last 18 months", said Joan. "They blend well with my aggressive style and incorporating them in my drawings has helped rid me of a fear of dogs I have had for some years."

The art of etching requires strong technique involving the cutting of metal plates and the handling of nitric acid. Joan, who feels etching is her strongest medium, also enjoys silk-screening and litho.

Paper making is another of her talents which won her first place in the national Kymmene-Star Creative Use of Paper Competition in the Shell Gallery last year.

Next year will see Joan returning to Natal to begin her diploma in higher education.

All of the entries in the Martienssen Exhibition were on display in the University's Studio Gallery for a two-week period.

Not to be forgotten is the University's collection of South African art and the Standard Bank Foundation's collection of African art, elements of which are always on display in the Gertrude Posel and Studio Galleries.

"We have a very fine collection of South African art and probably the most comprehensive public African art collection in the country", says Di Newman, curator of the University Art Galleries.

"Historically, we have works ranging from Pierneef to Peter Schutz. Technically, or works cover every technique from painting and drawing to photography and sculpture in wood and bronze. As a teaching ground, it is one of the best."

Because the African and South African collections are too large to be on permanent display, the works are rotated.

"We try to feature works which coincide with the History of Art department syllabus. For example, we are exhibiting Nigerian art this term and have a general African art exhibition scheduled for next term", says Di.

The Gertrude Posel Gallery is open from 9h00 to 16h00 from Tuesday to Friday and from 10h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays.

~ Beaming Fine Arts student, Joan Hassan (left) displays her prize-winning etching. Sharing her excitement are Professor Alan Crump, head of the Fine Arts department and Di Newman, curator of the University Art Galleries.