From the Director's Desk
On 26 May this year, the Gallery’s basement was flooded. Most of you will know that the flooding resulted from a power outage which lasted in excess of two days. As a consequence of the power outage, water from the underground spring was not automatically pumped away.
The water level rose to 500mm above floor level in our main art work storeroom which is located in the basement. Over four hundred art works were affected: paintings, art works on paper, fabric art works and sculptures.
Gallery staff and a team of volunteers worked around the clock to minimize the damage caused by the water. Affected art works were removed from the basement to safe areas in the Gallery. All art works on paper were removed from frames and mounts to avoid the chance of mould growth. These art works were laid out flat to dry gently before being removed to safe storage, pending assessment for restoration.
Smaller paintings were also moved from the basement. A number of the larger paintings suffered paint bubbling, paint loss, and loss of ornamental components on gesso-based frames. They could not be moved until the paint surface had been stabilized. Once this had been achieved, and the lift was functioning again, they too were moved to safety.
Whilst art works were our prime concern, there was also significant water damage to infrastructure. Damage has been assessed and repairs to the building are already underway.
The Gallery was reopened for business ten days after the flood which would not have been possible without the generous support and assistance we received in the immediate aftermath of the flood.
The extent of support was overwhelming, and it came in many forms. These included a generous financial donation from Edinburgh in Scotland, and the two-week secondment of the paper conservator from the Pietermaritzburg Archives Repository, who was able to provide emergency treatment to paper works.
Many Friends assisted with saving art works, whilst professionals worked tirelessly to get the Gallery operation back on track. Of particular concern was getting the Gallery’s climate control system functioning again and preventing further water rising in the basement. Action Refrigeration went beyond the call of duty to ensure repairs were swift and we thank them especially for their dedication and efficiency. Systems and equipment are now in place which limit a possible recurrence of flooding. These include two new sump pumps linked to sirens and to our intruder alarm system.
In addition, a new generator, which supplies electricity to the entire building in the event of a power outage, is now fully functional.
With sincere gratitude, we extend a huge thank you to all those who assisted in so many ways, especially to those who gave their time and expertise so willingly.
Fortunately the art work collection is fully insured. Our recent work has been to assess damage to art works in various media, and to liaise with various conservation specialists. Thankfully no paintings are considered beyond repair, and the restoration process is underway.
In order to focus on the museological aspects of recovery from this disaster, we have decided to reprioritize our capacity and to cancel our temporary exhibition programme for the rest of the year. This does not include the Fabulous Picture Show which will take place as usual in November. We have already received the first donation for this year’s fundraising initiative, and it comes all the way from England. Details for submission of donations can be found in the Exhibitions section of this Outline, or on the FOTAG website, www.fotag.co.za.
The Siliva Zulu Exhibition which was meant to take place in the Schreiner Gallery will now be exhibited by the Dante Alighieri Society in October. This exhibition will take place in the Old Prison building at the top end of Burger Street.
All exhibitions of the Gallery’s permanent collection continue as planned. Details are included in this Outline. An exciting new addition to the permanent collection is a lidded basket by master weaver, Reuben Ndwandwe. The basket shows his technique of overstitching to create a lace-like texture and his unique finish of the lid’s rim. Reuben also included his name in the woven design.
The Tatham Art Gallery is grateful to CPW Printers, for their generous part-sponsorship of this publication. It has become increasingly more expensive to produce the Outline and our partnership with CPW Printers has made continued publication possible. We thank Mark Backhouse for generously agreeing to assist the Gallery.
I am glad to announce that at last we have a brand new, user friendly, Tatham Art Gallery website. Christopher Duigan has been instrumental in developing our new look and we thank him for many hours behind his computer. We invite you to take a look: www.tatham.org.za. Feedback on the website is welcomed.
As this year draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a peaceful festive season, and welcome you back to an action packed programme at the Tatham Art Gallery in 2018.
FROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK