Circa on Jellicoe

'Oh Brother, Oh Brother where are thou?'

Wayne Barker
'Oh Brother, Oh Brother where are thou?', Mixed media on canvas ,

SEE LISTING Nelson Mandela's shirt

Desre Buisky
Nelson Mandela's shirt, Fabric ,


Roger Ballen
Roar, Photograph , 400 x 400

SEE LISTING Self-Shots (selection)

Hentie van der Merwe
Self-Shots (selection), Photographic print ,

SEE LISTING Brandfontein Memories Lost

John Meyer
Brandfontein Memories Lost, Oil on Canvas , 140 x 210 cm


2 Jellicoe Avenue, Rosebank (corner of Jan Smuts).

Hours: Wednesday - Friday 10:00 - 17:00 Saturday 10:00 - 14:00


Wayne Barker at Circa on Jellicoe

'normal man', the latest body of work from South African artist Wayne Barker, presents beaded canvases and oil paintings that protrude into the sculptural realm. His instantly recognizable vernacular is present in these works, and he develops his visual language extending objects from the canvas, as he has in the past, but with a greater emphasis on the life that extends beyond the flat surface of the canvas itself.

Barker pays tribute to influential people and cultural phenomena in normal man, using found objects and text frequently, a clear nod to the Dadaists of the 20th Century. Barker’s work contains the same sense of ordered chaos, and he echoes their sentiments in his clear critical examination of his universe.

29 January 2015 - 21 February 2015

Various at Circa on Jellicoe

CIRCA on Jellicoe is proud to host an exhibition of a selection of Nelson Mandela’s iconic shirts.

'Clothes Maketh a Man' - Marianne Fassler

Archive footage of Nelson Mandela reveals this about the man:

‘I’ve always had these statements that clothes maketh the man. But I never knew the real meaning of that until I was arrested. Then I was asked to strip naked. There were chiefs, there were professors, there were ministers of religion. Then when I looked at them I realized, indeed, clothes maketh a man.’

As a South African Fashion Designer with a distinctly African influence in my work, I have spent some decades trying to understand the relationship between Identity and Fashion. Those two concepts are seemingly almost diametrically opposed. Identity has substance. It’s something some people spend a lifetime searching for, and other people know with absolute conviction, based on their heritage and their selfhood or integrity. Fashion, on the other hand, is often (quite rightly) perceived as of no substance, all about trend and fickle.

I beg to disagree. Fashion in fact reflects history, reflects current affairs, and responds to global events and big cultural milestones. At its best and it’s most innovative, fashion is a reflection of change, not a cause of it. Hence the context and meaning of the Madiba shirt in the history of post-Apartheid South Africa.

So what do those shirts tell us about the man, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela:

They tell us that for Madiba, Fashion was hardly frivolous .He understood the real power of dressing and used it as a very effective communication tool.

Madiba was always a good dresser, but nowhere was this intuitive understanding of the power of dressing more evident than in 1961 at his treason trial where he came in the full traditional regalia of a Xhosa prince. In 1995 when he needed to reunite a country torn apart by apartheid, he stepped out, at the Rugby World Cup, in a rugby jersey steeped in symbolism.

But, back to the shirts:

For 27 years Nelson Mandela wore prison clothes, yet only 4 years after his release from Robben Island, the world hailed Nelson Mandela as a fashion icon.

‘He’s not just a living saint, but a fashion statement.” Said the New York Times

Desre Buirski, gave him his first silk shirt as a gift of thanks to this man who was to become the first Black President of South Africa. He loved it so much that he contacted her some weeks later and commissioned her to make some more. The first of the commissioned shirts, a really regal rich silk in black and green and gold, she presented to him on his birthday. The first photo of Madiba wearing that famous shirt was taken at a tea party he had organized for the ex -Apartheid Cabinet’s wives and all the ANC Freedom Fighters wives....Archival footage show him smiling broadly and saying:

‘This is a practical way of forgetting the past. These are the wives of heroes from both sides.
We have fought our fights in the past. We have forgotten that now; we are building a new South

Desre Buisky describes the shirts as ‘bold, colourful, soft-flowing, elegant and mostly comfortable and fun to wear.” They were always formally buttoned up right to the top, with a sartorial elegance that radiated with warmth and colour. The look was called ‘Madiba Smart' and appeared on invitations to gala events in New York, London and Johannesburg. This caught on very quickly, with even the most formal of businessmen, rock stars, dignitaries and statesmen, embracing a more relaxed form of dress in his company. But, irrespective of who he was meeting, or what the occasion was, Madiba’s dress code was the Madiba shirt. He even broke with a centuries old tradition and stubbornly refused to wear a
tie to meet the Queen of England. He also broke many other traditions on that visit, amongst
others, calling her Elizabeth and putting his arm around her...charming as ever.

What do those shirts mean to us?

While it might be frivolous to talk about Madiba’s iconic fashion statements, and superficial to dwell on the importance of wearing a tie, perhaps Nelson Mandela’s legacy is that its sometimes small symbolic acts that create a meaningful society and in his dress he gave us a sense of pride. He united us and made us proud to be from the African continent.

By wearing a shirt, Madiba was telling us that he was going to change us all...all the institutions, all the ingrained meaningless protocols, break down all the barriers between us:

Long live! Long live! (The legacy)

18 November 2014 - 24 January 2015

Roger Ballen at Circa on Jellicoe

One of the most influential and important photographic artists of the 21st century, Roger Ballen’s photographs span nearly forty years.  His strange and extreme works confront the viewer and challenge them to come with him on a journey into their own minds as he explores the deeper recesses of his own.

Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950 but for over 30 years he has lived and worked in South Africa. His work as a geologist took him out into the countryside and led him to take up his camera and explore the hidden world of small South African towns. At first he explored the empty streets in the glare of the midday sun but, once he had made the step of knocking on people’s doors, he discovered a world inside these houses which was to have a profound effect on his work. These interiors with their distinctive collections of objects and the occupants within these closed worlds took his unique vision on a path from social critique to the creation of metaphors for the inner mind. After 1994 he no longer looked to the countryside for his subject matter finding it closer to home in Johannesburg.

Over the years his distinctive style of photography has evolved using a simple square format in stark and beautiful black and white. In the earlier works in the exhibition his connection to the tradition of documentary photography is clear but through the 1990s he developed a style he describes as ‘documentary fiction’. After 2000 the people he first discovered and documented living on the margins of South African society increasingly became a cast of actors working with Ballen in the series’ ‘Outland’ and ‘Shadow Chamber’ collaborating to create powerful psychodramas.The line between fantasy and reality in his more recent series’ ‘Boarding House’ and ‘Asylum of the Birds’ (to be published in the Spring of 2014 by Thames and Hudson) has become increasingly blurred and in these series he has employed drawings, painting, collage and sculptural techniques to create elaborate sets. People are now often absent altogether; replaced by photographs of people used as props, by doll or dummy parts or where they do appear it’s as disembodied hands, feet and mouths poking disturbingly through walls and pieces of rag. The often improvised scenarios are completed by the unpredictable behaviour of the animals whose ambiguous behaviour is crucial to the overall meaning of the photographs. Ballen has invented a new hybrid aesthetic in these works but one still rooted firmly in black and white photography.

This retrospective covers three decades of work that culminated in the following books, ‘Dorps Small Towns of South Africa’ 1986, ‘Platteland, Images from Rural South Africa’ 1994, ‘Outland’ 2000, ‘Shadow Chamber’ 2005, ‘Boarding House’ 2009 through to the new work from the series, ‘Asylum of the Birds’ 2014.

In addition, the show will also likely to include two of Roger Ballen’s films; in particular ‘I Fink U Freeky’ which has had nearly 40 million hits on you tube as well as his latest video ‘Asylum of the Birds’.

31 July 2014 - 27 August 2014

Hentie van der Merwe at Circa on Jellicoe

This series consists of 33 LightJet prints on Fuji metallic photo paper that has been Diasec mounted in wooden frames (made from Sapele wood, which is a type of African hardwood used during the Apartheid era to manufacture desks, filing cabinets, etc. for State offices). The frames were especially designed and manufactured for this series in collaboration with Cape Town framer Wessel Snyman. 

Each image in the series is a face that has been produced by means of an elaborate process of appropriation, reflection and manipulation. The process involved in producing these images, both as a physical act and metaphorical gesture, is important to the concept of the series.

The above mentioned process begins with countless hours spent on the internet looking through photographs people have posted of their own reflections captured in private mirrors by cellphone cameras. I came to understand these types of online platforms for hosting such collections of images as a kind of contemporary self-regulating photo-archive of body- and face-types available for everyone’s participation; a fascinating phenomenon in view of photography’s historic alliance with phrenology. 

While going through these ever-expanding collections of photographed bodies, both naked and clothed, I would pause on images that intrigue me for whatever reason, and download these images. I would then import the image into Photoshop and correct the colours as well as isolate the face by cropping the image, before printing the image using a desktop printer.

The photograph is then suspended by hand in front of a flexible mirror in my studio and its reflection re-photographed onto transparency film by a medium-format film camera mounted on a tripod. During processing the film is also further manipulated by means of push-processing so as to affect the colours. The resultant transparencies are then re-digitized by a drum scanner and then printed, mounted and framed. 

03 May 2014 - 24 May 2014

John Meyer at Circa on Jellicoe

The Everard Read Gallery is proud to present 'Lost In The Dust', the much-anticipated Anglo Boer War Collection by John Meyer. The works offer an intimate and compelling look at how war affects the lives of those swept up in it. The paintings weave history, imagination and narrative into a multi-layered realm that deals with the tragedy of war. They are at once compelling, delicate, emotional and foreboding. 

Meyer was inspired to embark on this challenging journey by his ancestors who had fought on both sides, allowing him to reflect on it from a neutral position. Set against the dramatic and hauntingly beautiful backdrop of the vast South African interior, the collection combines Meyer’s talents for landscape and narrative in a unique body of works. 

“Only the dead have seen the end of war”. Plato 

23 April 2014 - 24 May 2014