Spring Awakenings, a new multimedia group exhibition in the gallery at Art in the Forest is open to the public until the 15th November.  This is not just any Spring, it is Spring in South Africa 2011.  It is Spring in the greatest economic recession since the 1930’s.  And the perspectives are very different. The unease is palpable.

The works of a wide selection of contemporary artists are featured, each presenting a point of view along the infinite continuum of human experience.  While the threads of regeneration, beauty, metamorphosis and the cycles of life underlie the whole, there are sinister underpinnings in certain instances.

Hanging next to top botanical artist Vicki Thomas’s Protea are two works by recent Michaelis graduate, David Brits – underneath his flowers lurk another layer of the countries recent history in the shape of a military helicopter and young soldiers.  Helen Vaughan’s birds are crows while Gavin Collins’s are pigeons. 

Dianne Heesom-Green’s arresting ceramic work called “Metamorphosis I, II and III” is at the centre of the exhibition underwriting the dualities of the exhibition.  Theo Paul Vorster enchants the eye with his original lino cuts, his tactile rendering of different materials such as wood and porcelain is masterful and his homage to Ingrid Jonker is both evocative and moving.

The juxtaposition of Rose Kotze’s photograph of urban youth out partying with Sibusiso Duma’s work called Swing Me Mum is an example of the huge divide between sophisticated urban culture and traditional rural society and the values associated with each of them.  Always at issue, is the commonality of human experience juxtaposed with the tremendous diversity of each particular instance.

Welcome Danca’s young girls are skipping but the skipping rope is made of barbed wire while the seasonal cycles underpin human organisation and the growing and harvesting of crops, for some the repetitive cycles of pension payouts is the reality of survival.

Apart from the magnificent floral works of the Keiskamma Art Project the only two paintings of flowers are the work of botanical artists.  The extraordinary precision of observation required for botanical painting in order for it to constitute an accurate record of a particular species, holds within itself the faint outline of possible extinction.

While human undertakings are not always compatible with the flourishing of the natural world, the exhibition presents works of art in many different media all of them portraying beauty, metamorphosis, pleasure and the celebration of life in all its diversity.

Spring Awakenings is conceived of as a plea for consciousness.  With all profits from sales of the exhibition to benefit the Light From Africa Foundation and its work to support vulnerable children in South Africa, there has never been a better reason to shop!  Visit the exhibition at Art in the Forest, Cecilia Forest, Constantia Nek from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 4pm.  Whilst there, enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee, peruse the functioning ceramic art studio, shop at the boutique upstairs or simply enjoy the breathtaking views of the valley below.