Current Exhibitions

Temporary Exhibitions

Alfred Martin (1874-1939), Untitled, oil on board

Alfred Martin (1874-1939), Untitled, oil on board

The Art of KwaZulu-Natal

Schreiner Gallery
Closes Sunday 28 January 2018

This small display in the Schreiner Gallery represents a large contribution to artistic production by past and present students and staff of the Centre for Visual Arts (CVA) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. There has always been a strong link between the CVA and the Tatham Art Gallery, most of whose past and present curators were trained there. Over the years this art school has gained national and international reputations for excellence. This exhibition links up with the other ground floor displays, which are also dedicated to the art of KwaZulu-Natal.

Valerie Leigh, Jug with Spring Flowers (1966), oil on canvas

Valerie Leigh, Jug with Spring Flowers (1966), oil on canvas

Honouring Valerie Leigh

Schreiner Gallery
Opens Sunday 4 February 2018 at 11h30
Closes Sunday 18 March 2018 at 17h00

Valerie Leigh was Curator of the Tatham Art Gallery between 1967 and 1974. Her major contribution was  expanding the permanent collection with acquisitions of art works, including ceramics, by South African artists.  She later worked as a curator at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town. As Art Co-ordinator for the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Museum Service between 1984 and 1997, she actively promoted the work of marginalised artists and crafters in the province. Dr Leigh is an artist in her own right. This exhibition comprises works by Valerie Leigh in the Gallery’s permanent collection.

A stamp from 1982 showing the Old Legislative Assembly Building

A stamp from 1982 showing the Old Legislative Assembly Building

The Philatelic History of a City

Lorna Ferguson Room
Opens Tuesday 13 February 2018 at 09h00
Closes Sunday 11 March 2018 at 17h00

This award-winning display comprises stamps, post-cards, and other philatelic memorabilia, assembled by members of the Maritzburg Philatelic Society. Various themes celebrate the history of Pietermaritzburg from the arrival of the Voortrekkers to the present day. These include war, early transport, architecture, sport and people.

School groups are warmly invited to visit this highly educational display. Bookings are preferred. 

Enquiries/Bookings or 033 392 2811 or 033 392 2823

Illustrated talks
17 February
    Michael O’Connor: The history of Pietermaritzburg Schools
10 March    Michael O’Connor : The history of Pietermaritzburg Churches

Louise Hall, Landscape I (2016), mixed media on canvas (detail)

Louise Hall, Landscape I (2016), mixed media on canvas (detail)

Five degrees of separation:
Terri Broll, Ian Calder, Heather Gourlay-Conyngham, Louise Hall and Terence King

Schreiner Gallery
Opens Sunday 25 March at 09h30 for 10h00
Closes Sunday 20 May 2018 at 17h00


The five artists featured in this exhibition are part of an ongoing local peer mentoring and discussion group. All are former students or lecturers connected to the Centre for Visual Art at the local campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The artists’ works are connected in the first instance by the immediacy of communicating via marks on a canvas or other support. The works, although based in observation, display differing degrees of realism, so as to amplify the interpretive possibilities of the subject.

Beth Diane Armstrong, Only One Living, wire

Beth Diane Armstrong, Only One Living, wire

Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2017:
Beth Diane Armstrong

in perpetuum

Main Exhibition Room
Opens Sunday 8 April 2018 at 11h00
Closes Sunday 20 May 2018 at 17h00

Beth Diane Armstrong highlights the use of sculpture to explore different expressions of density and looseness in relation to scale, structure, materiality, space, representation, and process. 

The title, in perpetuum, suggests something which is ongoing and everlasting. Armstrong applies the term  to negotiating an unremitting pull between the desire to be entirely overwhelmed and subsumed by a sculpture and the drive to resolve and contain the idiosyncratic challenges posed by it. Armstrong’s process is the translation of fleeting, abstract experiences into the permanence of a physically demanding material such as steel.

Armstrong’s mastery of the medium is captured in this body of work. It accentuates her meticulous processes, her attention to detail and her astounding ability to effortlessly switch between intricate smaller works and imposing large-scale masses.  Themes and motifs are drawn from her entire career as a sculptor and mark a full-circle return to where it began, having received her Masters in Fine Art from Rhodes University in 2010.

As a whole, in perpetuum presents  Armstrong’s work as a continuously self-generating system driven by the interplay between density and looseness.

Current Exhibitions From The Collection


Time - Place - Culture

This eclectic display of British, French and South African art works spans more than three centuries. Each art work has its own story to tell.

Still Life with Omega Flowers (1919), by the English artist Roger Fry, was purchased in London for the Gallery’s collection in 1985. This painting extends the Gallery’s collection of British Post-Impressionist art works.

Between 1908 and 1912 the British artist, William Orpen, and his family spent their summers at Howth, a village just north of Dublin in Ireland. Howth Head offers spectacular views over the Irish Sea. A bell tent would be erected for shelter and it was here that Orpen started painting in the open air. He developed a distinctive plein-air style that featured figures composed of touches of colour with no drawn outline, influenced by the French Impressionists. In the Tent, Howth of 1912 is one of a series of paintings from this period.

The oldest and largest painting in this exhibition was painted by the Dutch artist, Jan Wijnants,  in about 1670 ((above) Jan Wijnants, Wooded Landscape (c.1670), oil on canvas). The painting migrated back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean a number of times.

In the early twentieth century a Mr Berlein from Johannesburg bought the painting at an auction in Paris for his wife. In about 1970 the painting was sold to Mrs Joice Nicholson. She sent the painting overseas for the December 1978 auction at Christies in London.  It did not realize the expected price, and was sent back to the Nicholsons at St Michaels-on-Sea, Natal. In 1983 Mr Nicholson donated the painting to the Tatham Art Gallery in memory of his deceased wife.

  • Perimeter Gallery
William Orpen, In the Tent, Howth (1912)

William Orpen, In the Tent, Howth (1912)

The South African Landscape

This display, selected from the Gallery’s permanent collection, features landscape paintings by South African artists.  Any two or more paintings in this display invite comparison and discussion.

The paintings are as varied as the South African Landscape, and show many different ways in which artists engage with their environment.  To a greater or lesser degree, all of them deal with abstraction. Some images are easily readable as particular places while others merely suggest space.  All retain an abiding respect for the two-dimensionality of the painted surface.

Landscape is used as a springboard for diverse personal exploration.  There are challenges of suggesting spaces with marks and colour; engaging the viewer in experiencing particular weather conditions and landscape formations; and inviting consideration of environmental issues.  Many of the paintings depict people, sometimes starkly visible and at other times almost dissolved in the landscape.

Human figures are often completely absent from landscape paintings. When they do appear, they are often dominated by their surroundings. Figures can play various roles to enforce the artist’s view of the rural or urban environment. Images can range from detailed observation to simplification or even distortion, often to enhance a mood or express feelings. You are invited to ponder the depiction of figures in the paintings in the display.


Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886-1957) is considered the iconic painter of the South African Landscape. Of Dutch parentage, he was born in South Africa but also spent time living in Europe, where he came into contact with broader contemporary ideas about art making. The work of Dutch artist and theorist Willem van Konijnenburg inspired Pierneef to greater abstraction of nature.

Pierneef spent most of his life in the Transvaal, but travelled widely around South Africa and Namibia. In 1951 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Natal.

  • Lorna Ferguson Room
J H Pierneef, Untitled (1951), oil on canvas

J H Pierneef, Untitled (1951), oil on canvas


Vessels and Containers

Part of the current display is a historic overview of 20th century South African commercial potteries. These potteries, of which few still operate, played an important part in South African society between the two World Wars. Viewers interested in the history of design will find a fascinating fusion of European and African influences. 

On the right hand side as you enter, ceramics from a number of historical South African commercial studios are displayed in chronological order. Information about these studios is posted on the inner walls of the cabinets. Look out for indigenous imagery that contextualizes these South African ceramics.

On the left hand side of the room you will see hand-made ceramic vessels by well-known individual South African artists. Note that some male potters were influenced by traditional female Zulu potters.

  • Ceramics Room

Containers for Liquid

Ceramics Room
Opens Thursday 01 March 2018

This new display is a juxtaposition of liquid-holding containers from the Gallery’s permanent collection. They represent different cultures, purposes, designs and materials.

Porcelain originated in the East and has been widely used to hold hot liquids. René Lalique (1860-1945) was a famous French designer of glass containers, often used as vases. The Nala and Magwaza families are renowned for their exquisitely decorated burnished earthenware forms, based on traditional Zulu beer vessels.

  • Ceramics Room
R. Lalique, Baizes Vase, glass  

R. Lalique, Baizes Vase, glass


Schreiner Gallery


The Schreiner Gallery in the Tatham Art Gallery is a temporary exhibition space for artists and groups working primarily in the Msunduzi region. Artists are invited to make portfolio submissions for exhibitions from May 2018 into 2019. These exhibitions are accompanied by walkabouts, workshops, or artist-in-residence programmes.

Portfolios are submitted to the Gallery’s Exhibitions Committee for consideration, and need to include the following: 

  • A proposed title and motivation for the exhibition
  • A brief CV of the participating artist/s or curator
  • At least three original examples of work must be submitted 
  • Terms and conditions, proposal forms, and checklist can be found on the Tatham Art Gallery website: 
  • Deadline for submissions:
  • Wednesday 21 February 2018 at 12h00.

Enquiries or 033 392 2819 (except Mondays) or  033 392 2811 or 033 392 2823

More information can be obtained with the  application form.

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The Fabulous Picture Show results can be viewed  at