Peep Show offers a closer look at art

Annual exhibition showcasing miniature works by various artists

East London Fine Art Society member Anne Baker is hard at work hanging up various small-scale and miniature artworks, transforming the Ann Bryant Art Gallery’s Coach House into a room full of little worlds ahead of the Peep Show Exhibition opening at 6.30 pm on Thursday.
East London Fine Art Society member Anne Baker is hard at work hanging up various small-scale and miniature artworks, transforming the Ann Bryant Art Gallery’s Coach House into a room full of little worlds ahead of the Peep Show Exhibition opening at 6.30 pm on Thursday.
Image: Madeleine Chaput

The East London Fine Art Society’s Peep Show Exhibition opens at the Ann Bryant Art Gallery’s Coach House on Thursday night, showing off some small-scale and miniature artworks from 15 different artists.

Started by then Elfas chairperson Barry Gibb after he experienced his first miniature art exhibition in Cape Town more than 30 years ago, the show has been running annually.

“Every year is different and the exhibition has definitely changed and evolved since I first introduced it.

“Back then, we worked with the concept of peeping through the keyhole and painting what the butler saw in miniature images that people would frown at if they were bigger,” explained Gibb.

Today, the Peep Show boasts watercolour and acrylic landscapes, detailed drawings of flora and fauna, small-scale ceramic sculptures and more.

“It takes a lot of precision to make miniature paintings and drawings look good, so it doesn’t really lend itself to broad brush strokes.

Artists can submit works up to A5 size, but there is no limit to how small they can go.

“Our smallest artwork for this exhibition is a postage-stampsized painting of a tree,” said Gibb.

When the Dispatch visited the Ann Bryant’s Coach House earlier this week, Elfas society members were hard at work transforming the gallery into a room full of little worlds, tempting visitors to take a peep inside.

From Nguni cows and aloes to idyllic landscapes and abstract concepts, seasoned artists and students have brought their small-scale canvases and sculpting materials to life.

“We usually have a few high school art students who enter too.

“If their teachers encourage it, it would be wonderful to have more. I always pushed my students to enter when I was an art teacher,” said Elfas society member Diane Castle.

Fellow member Anne Baker said at one stage the exhibition had displayed more than 230 pieces of art, but it had shrunk over the years.

“We’re a smaller society now, so it’s more difficult to staff the gallery during the exhibition, and a bit harder to gain many entries, but it’s really great exposure for artists, so we welcome and encourage all to enter.

“The Peep Show is very different and has its own character, I think that’s why it is usually our best-selling exhibition.

“This is very much a people’s gallery and we’d love to gain more visitors and artists for all our exhibitions,” said Gibb, who hopes to revive the oncethriving café into a gallery coffee bar in future.

The Peep Show Exhibition opening will be at 6.30pm on Thursday and will be open daily until September 8.

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