President’s Letter

April 2013

President’s letter for SAVAH members

Dear SAVAH Members

This epistle begins with an apology from me and the SAVAH council for the lack of a newsletter for so long. The end of 2012 was frenetic for various reasons, and we have waited for so long this year because we wanted to publish the newsletter with the launch of our new website. This marks the ‘maiden voyage’ of our website which will now replace our old (and erratic) newsletter. Many thanks to Neil Lowe for his efforts in getting this much needed development finalised. We hope to use this in future as a platform for current news, local job opportunities, conference information and general information about the membership benefits and fees as well as Conference Proceedings.

Karen in front of a Sol Le Witt in Williamson, Massachusetts

Wherever possible information will be published on the website rather than e-mailed individually. I have tried to keep you in touch via e-mailing which can sometimes become problematic , firstly for me (to send timeously) and for you (as it fills your mailboxes, particularly when you have been absent from the office). I am hoping that e-mail messaging can be limited to important or urgent information along with international calls for papers which often have a short response time. A recent case that raised the issue of e-mailing is last year’s Getty Grant for travel to the CAA conference in New York in February 2013. I e-mailed the request for applications to all SAVAH members and then decided to apply for this grant myself. I was one of the lucky recipients (see the report on this visit below) but when I have spoken to SAVAH members about the wonderful opportunity it afforded they asked me how I knew about it. It seems many people missed it in the plethora of daily e-mails and thus missed out on an amazing opportunity – do not despair, however, the grant application process will be distributed this year for next year’s CAA conference, so look out for it.

I hope you are all aware of our 2013 SAVAH conference at Michaelis in Cape Town. The annual conference is one of the cornerstones of SAVAH’s activities as it is our opportunity to network and keep in touch with current research. Talking of networking, as an organisation we have been trying to reach out beyond the borders of South Africa and forge links with other African countries and with international people interested in the art of Southern Africa. To this end our link with ACASA has proved invaluable – not only do we have access to research in African Art from across the globe but we also have a direct link with other scholars in African countries. For those of you who might be new members of SAVAH I would like to urge you to join ACASA. Membership is free to residents in Africa and it is a wonderful platform for extending our connections with African scholars in other countries. At this point in time we have difficulty organising the payment of SAVAH membership for anyone overseas who would like to be a member here but at least we can send the conference invitations to international colleagues and keep them in touch with our activities. The same reasoning applies to our link with CIHA, in conjunction with the funding opportunities these connections make available to us.

There has been a huge amount of change this year with SAVAH members changing jobs and moving from one part of the country to another. Here at UJ we are lucky enough to have 2 SAVAH council members who have joined us recently (more about this under the heading of New Appointments and Promotions). This is a voting year for the SAVAH council and and we will shortly be sending out the nomination forms. Please approach any enthusiastic art historians you know and ask them if they would be willing to serve for a two year period to further our discipline in South Africa. We would like to include council members from areas beyond Gauteng and are looking particularly for nominees from across the country (we use Skype for meetings so location is not a limiting factor).

I would like to thank the present council members for their hard work over the last two years, Federico Freschi as Past President, Landi Raubenheimer as Secretary, Paul Cooper as Treasurer, Neil Lowe as Webmaster, Bernadette van Haute as De Arte Liaison, Annemi Conradie as convenor of the next conference and Rory Bester (‘minister without portfolio’). Thanks also to Brenda Schmahmann who joined us more recently to take up the urgent duties of Newsletter editor and information manager. They have been a wonderful team to work with and I hope many of them will agree to continue serving on the next council as they have developed necessary skills over the last two years for the smooth running of SAVAH.