Funding the revival of the Wits fine arts tradition

Fourth year fine arts students learn the organisational and financial aspects of being an artist.

The Wits Fine Arts department’s graduating class hosted the New Work Auction at the Point of Order gallery on August 10, to raise funds for the print of their first physical catalogue in four years, since disruptions during the covid-19 pandemic.

Reshma Chhiba, curator at the Point of Order, told Wits Vuvuzela that at the end of the fourth year of the fine arts degree, the class is graded through a New Work exhibition at the Wits Art Museum, and a printed graduation catalogue.

The evening started out with a silent auction (where bids were written on a piece of paper) and was followed by a live auction (where an auctioneer called for bids). The auction exhibition featured artwork by both students and staff.

Student placing a bid in the silent auction. The Wits fine arts department fundraising auction was held at The Point of Order gallery in Braamfontein. Photo: Morongoa Masebe.

Simangaliso Sibiya, who is part of the fine arts honours class, said that his colleagues had placed starting bids as low as R50, and the live auction helped get as much out of the auction as possible. By the end of the live auction, the highest bid was R3500.

Sibiya’s auctioned work was a portrait of the late Bhekizizwe Peterson, who was a professor in the Wits African Literature department. A tribute to Peterson for a recommendation that influenced Sibiya’s entry into the fine arts programme. In the portrait, Peterson is surrounded by a circle of dancing children and a border of QR codes, both symbolising that his contributions, will live in the future.

Sibiya said he appreciates the New Works Project because it teaches them one of many ways to make an income from their work.

Chhiba also said that the New Work project facilitates the development of some skills that the students will need when they begin work as professional artists. Because this is a student-led fundraising initiative, they get to learn the organisational and financial aspects of being an artist.

Masindi Mbolekwa, who was part of the organising team, and whose work was also part of the auction, said that it was significant in teaching him “how to navigate these kinds of spaces, how to talk to people, how to engage with people when they are interested in the work.”

The New Work exhibition will be showing at the Wits Art Museum in November of this year.

Simangaliso Sibiya’s portrait of Bhekezizwe Peterson hangs on a wall, surrounded by people viewing and bidding for artwork, at the Wits fine arts department’s New Work auction. Photo: Morongoa Masebe.

FEATURED IMAGE: Image of a bid sheet for the silent auction at The Point of Order gallery, where the Wits fine arts department held their fundraising auction. Photo: Morongoa Masebe


Wits Vuvuzela, Wits Fine Art students raise funds with Pungwe, April 2015.

Sunnyside up

A local soapie star and a number of students offered themselves for sale last Thursday night, amid the autumn leaves, golden apples and green vines of Eden.

The Sunnyside residence held their annual charity auction, themed “When Adam Met Eve”, to raise funds for the Christ Church Christian Care Centre (CCCCC) in Hillbrow. Ten guys and eight girls walked the runway, alongside Themba Nofemele, who plays Ranthomeng on Muvhango.

But it was a woman student, dressed in pink and black, who stole the show. ‘Sider Blaze drew the highest bid (R1000) and the loudest applause – bringing in more than double the amount paid for Nofemele.

The MCs were Smash Afrika and Koketso Morakile. The girls were dressed by a Sunnyside resident named Cleo. The men dressed themselves.

There was no music for the first half as organisers could not find a cable for the sound system. Even though the auction suffered a few technical difficulties, the night was a success, said chief organiser Memme Monyela.

Refreshments were provided afterwards in a nearby venue for the bidders and the auctioned models to get acquainted.

The CCCCC provides children with food, clothes and help with their homework. Monyela said the SRC also contributed financially to the charity.

Every year a different charity is picked to benefit from the auction.


The runway model up for auction.

Model up for auction

One of the models facing the crowd.

Blaze, who got highest bid.

Auctioned Models strut for a charitable cause.