Change the world

Event location: Bird Street Gallery

Event date and time: 03/03/2023 17:30:00

The Department of Visual Arts in the School of Visual and Performing Arts invites you to attend the opening of Eureka! A Journey Delving into Artisanal Diamond Mining

Eureka is an art exhibition by Professor Janine Allen-Spies and Dr AndrĂ© Rose that investigates artisanal diamond mining in Kimberley. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration that is approached from the respective vantage point of the Arts and Public Health.
The Eureka exhibition is a journey delving into artisanal mining in Kimberley. Artisanal mining refers to mainly subsistence mining and miners are not formally employed by mining companies. The miners sometimes do not have mining permits and are therefore regarded as ‘illegal miners’. There may also be undocumented foreign miners who are not legally authorised to work in the country.
Artisanal mining has recently moved into the national spotlight, following several deeply disturbing incidents across South Africa involving this marginalised community. The exhibition interrogates the social, environmental , occupational health and safety impact on this mining community. Prof David Rees, Emeritus Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, says that the exhibition should stimulate discussion to reflect on the lives of the miners and for us to take , ‘the necessary steps to find interventions that are humane, sound and pragmatic to protect them, their families, surrounding communities and the environment.”
Rose and Allen-Spies used a variety of art mediums to explore the complex narratives. The artists allow the voices of these communities to siphon through the artworks and tell the story of what drives one to engage in such precarious and arduous work. Amongst the dust and dreams, what is unearthed from these miners’ psyche is a story of hope and the resilience of the human spirit to persevere, even against unlikely odds.
Prof Peter Glendinning, professor of photography at Michigan State University lauded the exhibition stating, “[it] is an outstanding example of how creative vision, applied to difficult human circumstances, can both share information and provide a viewer with a series of striking visual experiences.”
M.C. Roodt, curator at the William Humphreys Art Gallery stated that “ that an exhibition like this truly legitimises the lived experience of undocumented workers, a large and important community that is shaping Kimberley in numerous ways.” Referred to as zama zamas, their story has mixed narratives and perspectives of criminality and environmental destruction that pervade the discussion. The exhibition explores these constructs but also brings to the surface the everyday struggles of the miners.
The exhibition “weaves together the thread of their humanity with that of the viewer so that we are left feeling empathy for their plight and their struggle to survive from day to day” says Dr Andre Rose. Prof Allen-Spies reflects that, “We get glimpses into their struggle for decent work, improved housing, and access to basic services, and a desire for their humanity to be acknowledged. These communities are often invisible but the exhibition helps us to touch them and question our stereotypical constructs of the ‘zama zama’.” Prof Crispen Chinguno from the Sol Plaatjie University commented, “The exhibition is important as it puts to the fore informal mining which often is invisible and portrayed negatively in public discourse.”
Janine Allen-Spies is an established visual artist based in Bloemfontein. She is a professor in the Fine Art Department at the University of the Free State. She uses traditional media such as painting, drawing, lithography, photography, installation and performance art, and explores new media such as animation and digital drawing and painting in her art practice. Allen’s work is held in prestigious collections, such as the Luciana Benneton Collection (Venice Biennale), and Modern Art Projects.
AndrĂ© Rose is a public health medicine physician and visual artist born and based in Kimberley. His art practice interrogates complex public health issues.

Contact information
Mr Jonathan Van der Walt
Sculpture lecturer
Tel: 0415043293