Due to the apartheid racial classification systems, many black artists were not allowed to further their education and attend formal learning facilities such as universities; such facilities were reserved mainly for white scholars at the time. Although few black artists had this opportunity to study and further their education, many had no choice but to attend classes at art centres and art associations.

The White Studio

The White Studio was established by John Koenakeefe Mohl in 1944. It was situated in Sophiatown, Johannesburg during the Polly Street Era. Elza Miles (1997: 57-62) writes: ” When Mohl established an art school, the White Studio, behind his home in Annadale Street, Sophiatown, it was the first establishment of this kind for Africans. According to ‘Bantu World’, Mohl described his objective as follows: ‘Our efforts in this studio aim at encouraging African talent through bringing within reach of promising pupils a good training in painting’ because: ‘A very high percentage of our talent lies buried. It is for Africans themselves to unearth it, train it and enable it to make its full contribution to the culture of our country. What is more, African artists will be among the foremost interpreters of our people to the other races’ (20 May 1944). Mohl kept the school going from 1944 until Sophiatown was demolished.”

Location on Google maps: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Sophiatown,+Johannesburg,+2092/@-26.1753,27.9772634,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x1e950bac04979ebd:0x25f9ad9a97505d3d

Bill Ainslie Studios established in 1964.

The Bill Ainslie Studios was established in 1964 by Bill Ainslie, who was also known as William Stewart Ainslie. The Bill Ainslie Studios was in a house rented from the Johannesburg City Council at the time. It later became known as the Johannesburg Art Foundation.

Location on Google maps: no current location

FUBA (Federated Union of Black Artists Arts Centre)

The Federated Union of Black Artists Arts Centre was established in 1978 by artists, writers, actors and musicians in Johannesburg. It later evolved into a full-time arts school that included printmaking. The FUBA gallery was opened in Newtown by South African painter David Koloane. During the 1980s, FUBA amassed a significant collection of South African and international artworks donated by international artists including work by Henry Moore, Sir Anthony Cairo and David Hockney. To the outrage of the local art community this collection was sold to an international buyer in 1999 to settle outstanding debts.

Location on Google maps: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Newtown,+Johannesburg,+2001/@-26.2028759,28.032612,16z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x1e950ea6f39bcf15:0xf256e7339cb3aa5b

Thupelo Art Project

The Thupelo Art Project was co-founded by David Koloane in 1985. It was the appropriate vehicle for driving the workshop concept locally. Thupelo is a Tswana/Sotho name meaning ‘teach by example’, and the programme enabled numerous artists from different areas of the country to work together in a venue outside of the city grind and its distractions. The concept was primarily intended to encourage artists to explore and experiment with different materials and techniques, and to exchange ideas. The process was also intended to discourage formulaic stereotypical expression, which resulted in the ‘township-art’ label in the marketplace.

The first Thupelo workshop held in Africa was in 1985 in Johannesburg. The workshop then moved to Cape Town where it held it first workshop by artists themselves in 1990. National and regional workshops are held annually, and is depended on funding.

Alexandra Art Centre

Bill Ainslie’s school extended beyond the Art Foundation. The Alexandra Arts Centre was established in 1986 in Alexandra, Johannesburg. Bill helped start FUBA (Federated Union of Black Artists), FUNDA (means ‘Learn’ in Xhosa), and the Alexandra Arts Centre.

Location: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Alexandra,+2090/@-26.1032099,28.1015634,14z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x1e950d539f33d86d:0xba9789de8bd1fbb3

Polly Street Art Centre

The Polly Street Art centre in central Johannesburg was a haven for a generation of artists who are considered to be some of the most renowned and influential to come out of South Africa. Cecil Skotnes began working at the centre from 1952, and his input during his teaching career there was very significant as Polly Street became “the launching-pad for the first large-scale venture of urban black South Africans into the plastic arts” (Berman 1983: 338). The art centre only existed between 1952 and 1975. Thereafter the program shifted to the Jubilee Centre in Eloff Street.

Location on Google maps: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Eloff+St,+Johannesburg/@-26.2116436,28.044199,12z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x1e950e97b8a43b39:0x43c49d4939a41e38

Jubilee Art Centre

The Jubilee Art Centre in central Johannesburg joined these alternative art education centres in the 1970s but was forced to relocate to the Mofolo Art Centre in Soweto when the Group Areas Act made it illegal for black students to be educated in the city. It was only in the 1980’s that the centre was renamed to the Mofolo Art Centre. More and more centers like these, eg Abangani Art Centre in Durban, Community Art Project in Cape Town, the Federated Union of Black Arts and the Open School in Johannesburg emerged in most major cities in response to demand by students who wanted an art education.

Location on Google maps: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Soweto/@-26.2438955,27.8382714,12z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x1e95a6b1e2746071:0x3a0838c21e9e6ddf

Katlehong Art Centre

In Phoko, Katlehong, Gauteng.

This centre provided East Rand artists provided artists with the facilities and inspiration to promote artistic production during the 1970’s and 1980’s. This centre further exposed its students to various media, especially with its focus on ceramic works. It also transformed into VACA or the Visual Arts and Crafts Academy which is focussed on upgrading high school learners and prepare them for tertiary education.

Location on Google maps: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Katlehong+Art+Centre/@-26.31493,28.162162,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x1e951ba62d7bf913:0x9c347e2a388a1e3c

Community Art Project (CAP)

The Community Arts Project was a centre open to the public and was based in Cape Town. It was established in 1977 and operated till 2008. This centre was pivotal in the cultural life in Cape Town not just during the apartheid years, but after democracy as well.

According to UCT library collections, Exploring the art of social change (2015) writes:

“Following the 1982 Culture and Resistance conference in Gaborone, CAP established a poster workshop (later the Media Project, and subsequently Media Works) that was responsible for most of the silkscreen posters and T-shirts produced in the Western Cape as well as many of the large, painted banners that featured in political events. Some of the artists who were involved in the poster/media workshop are Jon Berndt, Trish de Villiers, Lionel Davis, Gaby Cheminais, Martin Stevens and Chris Mtiya.”

This was perhaps the community art centre that was most active in using print as a means of social transformation at the time.

Location on Google maps: https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Community+Arts+Project/@-33.9289406,18.4362797,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x1dcc5d84632e0bb1:0x623ebfe728a28f4b

Vakalisa Art Associates

The Vakalisa Art Association was formed from a network of artists that were active in the Western Cape between 1982 and 1992. Vakalisa is known to have held various events and exhibitions in community spaces. In addition, they have published four calendars and two publications.

Location on Google maps: No location currently available

Triangle Artists Workshop

The Thupelo workshops are styled like the Triangle Network Artist workshops which were first held in New York in 1982.Since then workshops have followed this model in various countries and are organised and convened by local artists as well as local coordinators in the co9untries in which they are held.

These workshops are run uninterrupted for ten days to two weeks and are attended between twenty and twenty-five artists. In the international workshops, however, most artists participating is from the host country.

These were held in both Cape Town and Johannesburg.

EAON group

The EAON Group was founded by Helen Southern-Holt in District Six in 1933. It functioned as a cultural and welfare organisation. The name EOAN is derived from the Greek word Eos which means dawn. This refers to the enlightenment it strove to bring individuals.

Their central office was initially situated in the Isaac Ochberg Hall in District Six. By the mid-1950’s, fifteen branches were established throughout the Cape Peninsula. These braches offered a wide range of activities that included ballet, folk dance, speech, drama, singing, painting as well as sewing. From 1956 until the late 1970’s, EAON featured an active amateur opera section responsible for numerous art festivals, annual opera seasons and tours throughout the country between 1960 and 1965.

Collections in the Archives