Nicky Marais is on the commitee of VA-N
Artwolfe: What is VA-N?
Nicky: VA-N is a membership-based organisation of visual artists who reside in Namibia, or who have an artistic interest in Namibia, or who are Namibians who currently live and work outside Namibia – so you can see, a very loose set of membership requirements. These visual artists do not need to have any training or be of a certain age to join us, they simply need to identify themselves as visual artists in/of Namibia.
Artwolfe: How does VA-N go about promoting visual art in Namibia?
Nicky: We try to produce a comprehensive catalogue of our members at least once every two or three years, and we host a VA-N annual exhibition in various venues every year. Around the time of our AGM we do a membership drive, and try to give our members an interesting evening of networking and a platform to air their opinions. The main service we provide to visual artists in Namibia, however, is access to our comprehensive data-base for emailing advertisements for art events and opportunities. Our website updates members of coming events, and provides information on all members including examples of their work.
Artwolfe: What can our readers expect to see coming from VA-N in the next few months?
Coming from VA-N very soon is our annual exhibition in the brand-new and wonderful COSDEF Art Centre in Swakopmund. It opens on Thursday the 13th of November and runs into the beginning of December. We hope that our members will be active in this new centre and take full advantage of this incredible resource for the visual arts. Swakopmund could be the new hub of arts activities in Namibia through this centre.
Artwolfe: Can you tell us why inclusivity of membership is so important to VA-N?
Nicky: The inclusivity of VA-N membership has been criticised, mainly by professional artists who perhaps wished for a more rigorous selection process that would make VA-N a highly prestigious arts organisation in Namibia, rather than the loose collaboration of many different kinds of visual artists that it is today. The argument for a quality-based exclusive organisation of professional artists is understandable, and is not ruled out by the existence of VA-N. Our mandate however, reinforced by each succeeding Executive Committee, is to welcome all newcomers, young artists, students, graduates, hobby-artists and visiting artists into the organisation and to achieve a diversity and lively interaction between these groups. Our deeply divided arts community of the past needs healing. In our organisation artists from different backgrounds and levels of training get a chance to share their work and experience with others and all are given the chance of sitting on the Executive Committee. Most of us see it as a rare privilege to share our art with each other.
For more info, go to www.visualartistsnamibia.org