Jeff Rankin
Senior Lecturer:
School of Applied Art, Border Technikon
East London, South Africa

Mickey Mtiya
Artist in Residence
School of Applied Art, Border Technikon
East London, South Africa

Studio Project – Demonstration: “Relief in Research?”

In this studio session Mickey Mtiya will be building a reflexive window of relief prints from pre-cut woodblocks. Working from a recent series based on his exploration of teenage prostitution he will add current layers of imagery. Conceptually the window represents a collaboration between Mtiya, a former student and Jeff Rankin, a faculty member at Walter Sisulu University's East London campus on the South African coast. The collaboration began with the strong narrative foundation of the teaching and research program; this presentation recognizes that foundation by shifting Mtiya's visual exploration from an observed world to one in which the image is more consciously reflexive.

The title “Relief in Research? is asking questions in a contextual muddle. What, for example, is the place and fate of visual text in research terms? How does a traditional process such as woodcut adapt to current forms of enquiry? Can answers to both of these questions converge to offer some relief? As a visual narrative approach has evoked rich voices and stories among undergraduates, how can it be uniquely applied in advanced research as a challenge to colonial models?

Such questions and their answers are unspoken in the artwork. The presentation will use woodcut printing as a base to complete a multi-panelled window which takes the printmaker through a process of reflection and reflexivity. The element of time is significant in defining the order of printing and building of the finished window.

Mickey Mtiya represents the new generation of South African artists to have emerged since the democratic transition, as well as the specifically narrative approach followed in this Fine Art program. Mtiya will be on hand as printmaker to engage with the viewer; due to funding limitations and other commitments Rankin may only contribute to preparation of the work in South Africa.

MICKEY MTIYA was born in the East London, South Africa suburb of Mdantsane in 1980. He entered the Fine Art program at Border Technikon’s School of Applied Art in 2000, majoring in Printmaking and receiving awards for excellence as a printmaker in two successive years. In 2003 he entered the degree program for which he was to present an exhibition of large-scale relief prints as well as a related research project entitled “An Artist’s Exploration Into the Causes of Teenage Prostitution.” During this time he participated in the Salted Lines Project coordinated by Kerry-Lynn Potgieter, and was invited to attend the Impact 3 Printmaking Conference in Cape Town, 2003. In 2004 he attended a residency at the Caversham Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, and participated in the Mind Travel international print exchange (coordinated by John Hitchcock). Mtiya is currently Artist in Residence at Border Technikon, a position which not only provides an excellent role-model to students but gives the artist further opportunities for growth in confidence and image-development. His presentation at IMPACT 4 is clearly a valuable opportunity.

JEFF RANKIN was born in 1952 in Durban, South Africa. He saw enough of the world with his traveling parents to realize there was something wrong at home.  This encouraged his initial study in graphic art and printmaking (in Durban), where he developed a lifelong obsession with satire. Further study in the United Kingdom and residence in Ireland were followed by ten years as political cartoonist while working full-time as lecturer, as well as illustrator and designer in educational publishing. A family move to East London, South Africa in 1994 coincided with the first democratic elections and his co-founding of the art school where he now teaches. He completed his master’s degree in 1997 and is currently starting a DPhil studio research program in Fine Art. His most recent works, woodcuts and etchings, have been purchased by the New York Public Library and the Durban Municipal Art Gallery.