Selection - FHYA curation of selected materials from the Traditional Collection at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

Male figure and female figure Male figure and female figure (view 2) Male figure and female figure (view 3) Male figure and female figure (view 4) Catalogue card JL-A-23 and JL-A-24 (back view) Spine of 'JAG Archives: Traditional Collection: Brenthurst Collection: From Lowen Collection... Spine of 'JAG Archives: Traditional Collection: Brenthurst References' Title page of 'Traditional Collection: M.Stevenson' Staff Staff (view 2) Staff (view 3) Catalogue card JL-C-23 (front view) Catalogue card JL-C-23 (back view) Spine of 'JAG Archives: Traditional Collection: Brenthurst Collection: From Lowen Collection... Spine of 'JAG Archives: Traditional Collection: Brenthurst References' Title page of 'Traditional Collection: M.Stevenson' Headrest Headrest (view 2) Headrest object tag Catalogue card JL-E-43
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FHYA curation of selected materials from the Traditional Collection at the Johannesburg Art Gallery

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  • Source of title proper: FHYA

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Selection

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Date(s)

  • 2017 - (Online curation)
    Online curation
    Five Hundred Year Archive (FHYA)
  • 1987 - (Custody)
    Custody
    Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG)

Physical description area

Physical description


  • 31 Spoons
  • 27 Catalogue Cards
  • 20 Staffs
  • 17 Object Tags
  • 16 Figures
  • 13 Headrests
  • 8 Accession Records
  • 7 Archive Files
  • 7 Beadwork Items
  • 5 Vessels
  • 5 Snuff Spoons
  • 4 Snuff Boxes
  • 3 Clubs
  • 3 Snuff Box Staffs
  • 2 Beer Ladles
  • 1 Smoking Pipe
  • 1 Beer Skimmer
  • 1 Headrest/Staff
  • 1 Stool
  • 1 Milk Pail
  • 1 Drinking Cup
  • 1 Knobkierie
  • 1 Executioner’s Knobkierie
  • 1 Set of Earplugs

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Custodial history

[Source - Chloe Rushovich for FHYA using materials provided by Nessa Leibhammer, 2018: The FHYA selection from the Traditional Collection at the Johannesburg Art Gallery was made by Nessa Leibhammer. She selected objects from the Traditional Collections that came from the FHYA target area of KwaZulu-Natal and immediately adjacent regions which she identified as probably dating to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Traditional Collections were inaugurated by Christopher Till (head of the gallery 1983-1991) and in 1987, the gallery began acquiring material culture exclusively from the southern African region for this collection. The Traditional Collection comprises some 2500 mostly wooden and beadwork items, dating from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century. It includes accoutrements of daily use, as well as objects of a ceremonial, prestige or chiefly nature. It also includes beadwork worn by men, women, and children; bracelets; bangles; capes; shawls; skirts; headgear; and waistcoats. Objects of domestic use in the collection include ceramic vessels, carved wooden milk pails, spoons and platters, woven fibre baskets and reed and grass mats. JAG does not collect weapons or archaeological material unless they manifest what curators consider a high aesthetic standard. The gallery seeks particularly to acquire objects that manifest anthropomorphic or zoomorphic attributes as these align themselves with western sculptural genres - animated by the presence of a ‘being’ - be it human or animal. These are features that attempt to bring the collection closer to Fine Art and away from the topological, ethnographic mode which values multiple assemblies of a single type without a concern for aesthetics. Thus the gallery does not collect multiple samples of the same type of object since its focus, in line with an ‘art’ genre, is the single unique object. These carefully considered selections, exclusions and inclusions, have shaped the nature of what is considered ‘traditional’ at JAG. The first set of objects purchased by JAG was a collection of 114 headrests, part of a larger collection assembled by the Suisse Romande missionary, Reverend A. A. Jaques. These objects came mainly from the southern Mozambique region, as well as what was known as the eastern and north-eastern Transvaal (now Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces) and were purchased in 1987. Also in 1987, JAG’s holdings of southern African material culture were further augmented when the Brenthurst Collection, containing 862 items of southern African art, was placed on long-term loan at the institution. In 1992, the Horstmann Collection, totalling 93 objects, was acquired. In 2013, the JAG purchased 138 nineteenth- and early twentieth-century pieces from Professor Nicholas Maritz. These objects were classified by Maritz as ‘Northern Nguni’. Much of the Maritz collection was assembled by Jonathan Lowen in England and Europe, as was the entirety of the Brenthurst Collection.]

Scope and content

[Source - Chloe Rushovich for FHYA, 2018, using materials provided by Nessa Leibhammer: Nessa Leibhammer was the curator of the Johannesburg Art Gallery Traditional Collections from 1994 to 1996, and 2005 to 2013. Leibhammer, for the FHYA, identified objects from the Traditional Collections that came from the FHYA target area of KwaZulu-Natal and immediately adjacent regions which she identified as probably dating to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She selected a series of items from the Brenthurst Collection (assembled by Jonathan Lowen); the Horstmann Collection (assembled by Udo Horstmann); the Maritz Collection (assembled by Nicholas Maritz); the Brodie Collection (assembled by Mordechai Brodie); the Karner Collection (assembled by Ken Karner) as well as items owned by the Jaques family, purchased by JAG in 1987. The selection includes a range of genre: carved wooden objects, metal and beadwork items, staffs, snuff boxes, headrests, vessels, baskets, pots, etc. She also purposefully selected objects where she knew there were similar examples in other, older, collections as well as notable items where no secure information is known, so as to open the possibility that such items might accrue an information context through appearing on the FHYA exemplar.

The FHYA ordered this material into ‘series’ with each ‘series’ being named after the collector.]

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Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-ND

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

Unless otherwise stated the copyright of all material on the FHYA resides with the contributing institution/custodian.

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