College of Human Sciences

Unisa Art Gallery presents exhibition celebrating the university's rich heritage

In honour of Unisa’s 150th anniversary, the Unisa Art Gallery will host an exhibition from 10 June to 7 July 2023, titled "Reimagining the archives and artistic reflection, recording and appraising Unisa's existence". Curated from Unisa archives and its art collection, the exhibition will showcase the artworks that span the institution's history, highlighting its presence during different political eras.

Pat Mautloa’s Brazier Series II Photograph and Lightbox artwork

The exhibition will be presented by Unisa’s Dr Daniel Rankadi Mosako, Lecturer in the Department of Information Science, and Prof Nombeko Mpako, retired former Director of the Unisa School of Arts. "Conscientious efforts must be continuously considered to capture a holistic historical record through art, as history cannot be selective, especially when it is for educational purposes," says Mpako. She continues: "Therefore, the august exhibition marks an important footprint of Unisa’s existence through 150 years, and recommends purposeful strengthening strategies of its vision and values."

Cecil Scotnes’ Untitled Coloured Woodcut (1974) artwork

Additionally, the exhibition symbolises the university's existence through three phases from Unisa’s establishment. These phases align with the socio-political contexts that shaped the institution’s art collection and its archives. It also aims to represent the colonial, apartheid and new democratic dispensations, providing insights into the institution's evolution and influence.

Mosako says that the exhibition presents an opportunity to create inclusive participation, encouraging spectators to actively engage with Unisa’s archives repository towards decolonising, redressing, and enriching the art collection for the benefit of future generations.

The exhibited artworks have been carefully selected to represent Unisa's timeline from its establishment in 1873, to the founding of its then called Department of History of Art and Fine Art in 1961. It also covers the period from the Unisa Art Gallery’s establishment in 1985, looking at both the archives and art collection until 2011. The period from 2011 to 2022, highlights significant educational and democratic changes relating to staff and student matters.

The exhibition promises to be a captivating exploration of Unisa's existence, celebrating its rich heritage and inspiring deeper understanding of its enduring significance. It invites contemplation, reflection and appreciation of the institution's role in shaping South Africa's educational and cultural landscape.


* Tebogo Mahlaela, Communication and Marketing Specialist, College of Human Sciences

Publish date: 2023/06/08

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