For this week’s DUTLINK, Noxolo Memela, DUT Media Officer, chats to Francesca Verga, the Curator at the University’s Art Gallery. Located on the Steve Biko Campus, the DUT Art Gallery is the University’s cultural base dedicated to collecting, documenting and conserving art. The gallery’s collection includes anonymous carvings, clay pots, beadwork, wooden and bronze sculptures, contemporary paintings, mixed media and art installations and continues to grow through donations and purchases that have relevance to current commentary.
Noxolo: Who is Francesca?
Francesca: As the DUT Art Gallery Curator, I have one of the most exciting and unusual jobs that I can think of. I am fortunate to be in a position that allows me a sense of artistic freedom, to plan exhibitions, art events and the opportunity to work with other creatives which is fuel for my fire. I am passionate about Durban’s local art scene; be it visual arts, film, live music, dance or theatre.
Noxolo: What does being an artist mean to you?
Francesca: I am often asked if I am an artist. I see my role rather as a creative practitioner who works closely with artists and engages in helping viewers understand and interpret artworks.
Noxolo: Who is your favourite artist and why?
Francesca: The way in which artists engage in subject matter, their choice of medium and the ability of an artist’s work to impact or challenge my thought process is how I evaluate my preference towards an artist’s work. South African artist Diane Victor’s work is definitely at the top of my list. That being said, I appreciate classical historical works of art, architecture and design. This could range from classical Greek sculpture, to the architecture and design of Scottish artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, to the fantastical work of H.R. Giger.
Noxolo: What do you like most about being in the art industry/gallery?
Francesca: I enjoy the interaction with artists and designers; the challenge of arranging artworks of different mediums and subjects into an exhibition which engages viewers through the way in which works are hung and/or positioned in relation to one another. I have also been able to start my private art collection by emerging local artists including Sakhile Mhlongo, DaneStops, Wonder Mbambo, Karla Nixon and Jewellery Designer Songezo Baleni amongst others.
Noxolo: If you were not into art, what would you be doing?
Francesca: I am fortunate that my parents encouraged me and gave me the freedom to pursue a career in the arts which is often overlooked as a hobby rather than a serious profession. If this were not the case, I would probably run a day care for dogs!
Noxolo: Besides art, what are your other interests?
Francesca: I certainly don’t make enough time for other things as I am very involved in the broader arts community outside of my role as DUT Gallery Curator in amongst working towards completing my Master’s degree. I enjoy spending time with family and simply having time out at home with my dogs. I enjoy yoga, when I make the time, and appreciate a decent cup of coffee and good Italian cooking.
Noxolo: Any message to aspiring artists?
Francesca: Surround yourself with other creatives. The power of creative collaboration is contagious!