The digital Bleek and Lloyd

This is a digital archive of 19th century !kun and |xam texts comprising the linguistic and ethnographic work of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek. The Bleek and Lloyd archive comprises material housed in a number of national and other collections, including the National Library of South Africa, Iziko South African Museum, the Western Cape Provincial Archives and Records Service, the University of Cape Town and the Univerisity of South Africa. While Bleek’s descendants have donated or sold the bulk of the collection, mainly to UCT, several items, particularly objects, still remain with family members. A cupboard once belonging to Lucy Lloyd is owned by Pippa Skotnes.

Go the Centre for Curating the Archive for information on the Bleek and Lloyd conference, August 2011.

Lydenburg heads

This is a resin copy of one of seven terracotta heads found near Lydenburg by a young schoolboy, K.L. von Bezing, who gave them to the Archaeology Department when he came to UCT as a student in the 1960s. It is dated c. AD 500-700 and represents the earliest sculpture found in southern Africa. Excavations suggest that the heads may have been burned and deliberately buried, rather than just discarded or abandoned.

The Lydenburg Heads are part of UCT's collections on loan to Iziko South African Museum.

The Lydenburg Heads were the subject of an exhibition and publication (Face value) by Emeritus Professor Malcolm Payne of the Michaelis School of Fine Art.

Kirby collection

Instrument from the Kirby collection

To collect and describe every kind of musical instrument made and played in southern Africa south of the Limpopo; this was the project that Percival R Kirby, the energetic head of the new Music department at Wits University conceived and set about realising in the late 1920s and 1930s. By 1934 Kirby had collected many hundreds of instruments and published his major work, The musical instruments of the native peoples of South Africa. A professor with an eye to pedagogy, he also sought out unusual instruments from Europe and elsewhere, and set up his ‘museum’ at the university. After retirement this collection was loaned to the Africana Museum in Johannesburg from 1954 until the early 1980s, when the University of Cape Town acquired it.



Similitude, one of the 175 curated cabinets in Curiosity CLXXV, assembled objects from the Kirby CollectionChemical Engineering and Forensic Pathology Departments. Here the most basic of taxonomic systems was applied, corresponding to early Linnaean classification and based on physical resemblance or shared characteristics. In so doing, objects that would otherwise have been highly charged – a torch used as a murder weapon and the skull of the victim of the famous 'crossbow murder' together with arrow – became neutralised and merely a series of 'long things'. This forced decontextualisation allowed for objects from disparate provenances to be brought together in the formation of new dialogues.

Curiosity CLXXV brought together objects from diverse departments throughout the university. Using the strategies of the wunderkammer, where extraordinary objects collide and sense is made through formal and imagined connections, the exhibition was also one that spoke to the history of collection and display.

Teaching sociology with images

Kevin Carter's Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of a Sudanese child and a vulture

The visual image marks a transition point between the rational and the irrational in teaching/ learning. An image, as used here, is not a visual representation of a rational process in the way that organograms, diagrams or maps are. An image is symbolic in the sense that it points beyond itself into the unconscious. Such a symbolic dimension is highly significant for sociology since the acquisition of certain basic theoretical ‘thinking frames’ by students entail crucial affective transformations.

Pathology learning centre

In the pathology teaching collection there are 3500 specimens organised by system or organ (for example heart, kidneys, breast), and then by disease process (for example congenital anomalies , infections, neoplasms). These specimens are from autopsies or surgical cases, mostly from Groote Schuur Hospital. Several hundred more specimens are waiting to be catalogued and new specimens trickle in where there is consent. The specimens have generally been chosen because they fall into two general groups; they are either "classic cases" i.e. good type examples of a condition, or, they are unusual variants of a condition or extremely rare conditions. The collection shows the changing patterns of disease over almost a century, where some diseases have almost disappeared (such as tertiary syphilis) and new diseases have emerged (such as AIDS).

Subtle thresholds

Image from Subtle Thresholds

Fritha Langerman, at Iziko, 2009-2010.

Subtle thresholds was a project specifically concerned with how the epistemological constructions of 'difference' and 'analogy' have been used to mediate the cultural understanding of pathology. In an attempt to communicate bodies of knowledge, the bio-medical and biological sciences have often had to rely on analogy to carry complex ideas, and it is these persuasive visual analogies that occupy a central role in the formation of public perception. Disease has been visualised as a state of difference – another category of existence. It is imagined as a space of separation, both physical and psychological whereby the patient becomes identified through and by their disease, or what Sander Gilman refers to as the fixity of disease as a constant other.

Read more on the exhibition here.

Zamani project - Lalibela

Capturing the spatial domain of heritage.

Zamani is the Swahili word for "the past". The project attempts to capture the spatial domain of heritage, with a current focus on African heritage, by accurately recording its physical and architectural nature and dimensions. Sites are seen in the context of their physical environment and landscape's surrounding sites are documented based on satellite and aerial imagery, wherever possible. The documentation project was initiated to increase international awareness of African heritage and provide material for research while, at the same time, creating a permanent metrically accurate record of important sites for restoration and conservation purposes.

AIDS archive at UCT

Aids ribbon

UCT Libraries has joined forces with the Community Health Media Trust (CHMT) to house the archives of video tapes and transcripts documenting the history of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. The archive, touted to be the first of its kind in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) states, contains policy, stories, and people's personal testimonies on AIDS during its manifestation. Jack Lewis, CHMT director, said the resource would become increasingly valuable as society moves away from "the heat of the epidemic".

Curiosity CLXXV


This project 'to curate the university' was inspired to coincide with UCT's 175th anniversary. The curators wanted to represent the university in all its diversity, drawing together collections of objects housed within it. At the same time, and more importantly, the project sought to subject the process of collecting and exhibiting to scrutiny and to force collections of objects from different disciplines into dialogue with each other. In this way, the exhibition was less about the university's history than about disciplinarity, classificatory systems and the spaces where disciplines can be encouraged to creatively intersect.

Read more about the publication which accompanied the exhibition here.

Face value


Malcolm Payne’s installation, Face value: old heads in modern masks, a visual, archaeological and historical reading of the Lydenburg Heads, impacts dramatically on the national art museum, highlighting – in a manner different from any of the exhibitions organized hitherto – aspects of changing parameters and value systems. This exhibition proclaims a territory where shifting definitions of art, the meaning of objects, the contexts of spaces and the politics of culture can be examined.

(from Marilyn Martin's foreword to the publication Face value: old heads in modern masks.).

Introduction by Malcolm Payne to the publication Face value: old heads in modern masks.

The Lydenburg Heads are part of UCT's collections on permanent loan to Iziko South African Museum.

Five: 20 - Operas made in South Africa

Extraordinary curations of the archive:

'Five: 20 - Operas made in South Africa' premiered at the Baxter Theatre from the 21 to 27 November. Presented by Cape Town Opera , the UCT Opera School and the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) these five 20-minute long operas have been written by South African composers and writers to celebrate the South African College of Music’s centenary year.

Each 20 minute opera is based on a South African story.

M.R. Drennan anatomy museum

Statue of a foetus in a womb

The M.R. Drennan museum is used as a teaching venue for a variety of disciplines and courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It is vital for students to be able to see well-dissected specimens in context and to be able to link these structures with the relevant functions. 

Made in translation

Paintings and engravings are everywhere in the southern African landscape. They are scratched into the surfaces of the dolerite boulders of the central plains; carved into the rock banks of hill-top waterholes; painted onto the shelters of the mountains in the east and west, and buried in the graves of those who once understood their meanings. They are the creative expressions of ideas that were once alive in the conversations around the campfire and in the rites of passage that marked the milestones of human life. Today these paintings and engravings have become sources of great longing, their meanings multifarious, elusive, contingent; the impulses that gave rise to them often hotly debated and argued.

Listen to Ukuthula, an African lullaby song in the midst of the sounds of nature.

Listen to Horizons by Peter Louis van Dijk. Both pieces performed by the University of Cape Town Choir, conducted by John Woodland.

Listen to the story The Eland Man, as told by Kapilolo Mahongo in !kun, introduced and translated by Marlene Winberg.

Dialogue at the Dogwatch

The installation of Dialogue at the Dogwatch at UCT's middle campus.

An important group of sculptures (comprising four interactive elements) with a footprint of about 100m2 has been unpacked on the new middle campus square. The 1994 work The Dog Watch, by acclaimed South African sculptor David Brown, was a gift from UCT alumnus Charles Diamond. Diamond, who commissioned the work some years ago, first offered it to the university in 2006, as he was moving from his estate near Henley-on-Thames, near London, UK, where it had been installed. Over the next few weeks the work will be reassembled and installed at its new home, under the supervision of Brown. There are several more works by Brown around the UCT campus, including sculptures in the chemical engineering building, in the Hoerikwaggo Building, in the Leslie Building, and in the Irma Stern Museum gardens (a maquette for The Dog Watch). 

(text from UCT campus building update)


Image to represent the curatorship elective

The Curatorial elective is a four-week course offered to third year Bachelor of Fine Art students at the Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT. In this course, a dual emphasis is placed on both the intellectual ambit of the curatorial and the professional skills associated with it. The programme includes a series of lectures, workshops and exercises. The elective culminates in a public exhibition. In 2010, the students produced a group exhibition of individual curatorial proposals, 1:nineteen, for the Michaelis Upstairs Gallery.

Irma Stern museum

Irma Stern (1894-1966) is recognized as one of the foremost South African artists of the twentieth century. Her work forms a part of many prestigious collections and has fetched record auction prices in recent years. Stern’s output was prolific and her subject matter included figures, portraits, lush landscapes and still lifes. She worked in a variety of media, including oils, watercolour, gouache and charcoal.

The Irma Stern Museum was established in 1971 and houses a collection of the artist’s work, books, possessions and valuable artefacts, as well as having a marvellous garden and contemporary art gallery.

The museum is in the house the artist lived in for almost four decades. Several of the rooms are furnished as she arranged them, while upstairs there is a commercial gallery that exhibits contemporary South African artists.

Various collections assembled by Irma Stern create an extraordinarily rich and highly individual domestic environment, which reflect the artist's interests and tastes. There is furniture, ceramics and textiles from many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa and the East, but are not confined to a particular period. Artefacts date from classical and medieval times to those designed in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Visit the museum's website.

Rare books & special collections

Page from a rare book

Rare books & special collections is one of the research libraries of the University of Cape Town Libraries.

It consists of a number of specialist collections of interest, including for example the Kipling Collection and a collection of South African Children's Literature. It houses a number of remarkable books on a range of topics, some very old and/or very rare.

The Bolus herbarium and library

Illustration from the Bolus Herbarium

The Bolus Herbarium, established in 1865 by Harry Bolus, is the oldest functioning herbarium in South Africa. An amateur botanist and wealthy philanthropist, Bolus lived in Cape Town for a number of years during which he contributed greatly to the field of Botany by describing many new plant species. These included, of particular interest, types of South African Orchids and Ericas.

As part of an academic institution, the Herbarium’s primary function is to aid in the teaching and research of the diversity of the southern African flora, particularly that of the Cape Floristic Region. Research associated with the herbarium focuses mainly on taxonomy, systematics, biogeography and endemism.

With a collection of over a third of a million southern African specimens, it is the third largest university Herbarium in the southern Hemisphere. The collection is recognized for its superb representation of the Cape Flora and the large number of type specimens housed.

The Bolus Herbarium Library developed from its origins as a taxonomic library and now contains a comprehensive collection of works relating to South African systematic and geographical botany, as well as extensive modern literature on evolutionary biology.

Centre for popular memory

The Centre for Popular Memory (CPM) is an oral history based, research, advocacy and archival centre located at the University of Cape Town. The centre records and disseminates peoples' stories to expand the democratizing possibilities of public history. The CPM trains students and organizations in oral/ visual history research, theory and forms of public representation; and runs a publicly accessible multi-lingual archive that contains over 3000 hours of audio and video.

The CPM believes that people's stories have the power to contribute to social and developmental change. As we hear, see, imagine and empathize with others, we can contribute to altering attitudes, perceptions and policy. Given that memories are particularly shaped and conserved by relationships, we focus on facilitating dialogues across generations and through sites of memory.

The centre's research prioritizes multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary approaches to memory, narrative, gender, identity formation, and the impact of violence and traumatic legacies in Africa. They specialize in dissemination of these narratives through books, radio, exhibitions, film and web. Future plans include the development of content into more portable media platforms.

(text CPM)

Go to the CPM website.

View the CPM promo video here

Physics collection of demonstration models and Dem Online website


Modelling, visualisation and demonstration are key strategies in physics research and in physics education. The UCT Physics Department owns a collection of research equipment and demonstration models –the latter purchased and/or constructed over the years by lecturers, technicians and student. Some are still functional and housed in the labs, others are stored in the educational demonstration storeroom and, older artefacts no longer in use, are housed in offices and cabinets through out the department, including some subsumed into the Curiosity cabinets.

The department hosts a website aimed at allowing easy archiving of and access by staff and students to the departments collection of demonstration models. It catalogues both lecture demonstrations and VPython scripts.

The lecture demos section contains descriptions of the setup and execution of various physics experiments, along with screenshots and a reference for finding the equipment in the UCT Physics labs.

The VPython scripts section contains scripts that demonstrate various physics concepts.


UCT works of art collection

The holdings of the University of Cape Town art collection currently numbers 1100 works by 520 South African artists and continues to increase annually. It is comprised mainly of paintings and works on paper, with sculptures forming a smaller collection together with a few examples of ceramics and textiles, which have been obtained in various ways since the 1920s.

Initially dependent on donations and bequests, there is an active acquisitions policy and the allocation of a budget, which enables regular purchases to be made and work to be commissioned.

The collection is located in over fifty buildings extending across five main sites; ranging from Upper Campus on the slopes of Table Mountain in Rondebosch, to the Medical School in Mowbray and Hiddingh Hall situated in Orange Street, Cape Town. It is hoped that visitors, students and academics associated with UCT will be able to view the artworks placed in all these areas with enjoyment and appreciation.

An online database of the collection is available as a teaching and research resource. A pilot programme was introduced in 2010 and used by CAS.

Text: Mary van Blommestein

Forensic pathology slides

The Pathology Learning Centre is undergoing the process of digitizing slide images from the personal research archive of retired forensic pathologist, Professor Deon Knobel. The collection is made up of photographic images of evidence, specimens and other examples relating to the field of forensics. Knobel himself and investigating officers took many of these photographs in situ at crime scenes and sites of violence. Renowned for his dynamic teaching style, Knobel often drew on this fascinating collection for his lectures.

The Pathology department is currently digitizing their collection of Post-Mortem books, dating back to 1919, they are available online 

Kimberlite collection

Kimberlite collection

Tucked away in the nether regions of the Leslie Social Science Building is a storage area used by the Department of Geological Sciences. At first glance, it seems to be a veritable Aladdin's cave of geological wonders. In fact, the Mantle Room, as it is fondly called by its keepers, houses a unique collection of kimberlite and associated rocks from continental roots. Kimberlite is a type of igneous volcanic rock of ultra-deep origin. The specific economic value of kimberlite lies in the particular precious gem that it is known to contain. As suggested by the eponymous origin of the rock name, this is the diamond. Kimberley, home of The Big Hole, is a primary mining site and locus of the late nineteenth century South African diamond rush.

Amongst others, the Department of Geological Sciences, in particular the Kimberlite Research Unit, uses the valuable collection for research.

Synechdoche, Upstairs Gallery

In the first semester of 2011, a group of ten third year Fine Art students produced and curated Synechdoche, Upstairs Gallery - an exhibition of individual curatorial proposals for the Michaelis Upper Gallery. The students decided that the theme of their show would be an engagement with the language and practice of curatorship. Through careful, playful gestures and site-specific references, they drew attention to the gallery space, its history and the multiple roles of the curator within the practice and workings of Contemporary Art. The title of the exhibition was chosen to imply an engagement with the broad and complex arena of Curatorship in general – 'the whole'- through the specific act of creating this small show – the 'part'.

The names of iconic historical exhibitions, both local and international were interspersed between the steps of the staircase ascending to the gallery. Identified by the students in their research, these labels -"Salon Des Refuses", "Art of This Century" and "Africa Remix" to name a few- acknowledge key moments and antecedents.

A Conversation with the Bolus Collection: Science, sensibility, sensuality

An exhibition in the Upper Gallery, Michaelis, curated by Nadja Daehnke.

The year 2011 saw the centenary of the world-renowned and scientifically important Bolus Herbarium, housed in the UCT Botany Department.

Harry Bolus (1834 – 1911) was an amateur botanist who devoted much of his life to finding, classifying and cataloguing the flora of the Western Cape. He pursued this passion with assistance from a number of notable persons of the period, with C Louis Leipoldt as close collaborator and apprentice. On his death in 1911, Bolus's type specimens of flora were bequeathed to the Bolus Herbarium, one of the largest herbaria in the Southern Hemisphere. Also bequeathed were a substantial library of botanical books dating back to the early 17th century, a number of botanical illustrations and other, non-botanical artworks linked to Harry Bolus. These are now all housed at UCT as collections, which have been expanded on in subsequent years.

Arthur Hughes: The Doors of Mercy, 1905, oil on panel, 96 x 122cm

P.D Hahn - Chemical Engineering building

Fritha Langerman was commissioned by the UCT Works of Art committee to produce artworks for the PD Hahn building, STOICHEIA was the first in a series of installations for the Chemistry department. In August 2011 Langerman finished the commission with the installation of cabinets in the entrance hall. The cabinets are in PD Hahn Southside entrance and acknowledge PD Hahn, the man, his instrumental role in admission of women to UCT, the building and the history of Chemistry at UCT.

Visual Practices Across the University - a lecture by James Elkins


This lecture and cocktail function marked the launch of the VC strategic initiative in Archive and Curatorship, ARC: the Visual University and its Columbarium

23 August 2011

Hiddingh Hall, UCT's Hiddingh Campus, Orange street, Gardens

Today's university employs a wide range of image-making and image-interpreting practices: doctors, lawyers, scientists of all sorts, engineers, humanists, and social scientists all produce images and make arguments about them in different ways. This talk assessed the state of scholarship on links between art and science, arguing that it is possible to consider images in various fields without using tropes from the humanities or social sciences as explanatory tools -- in other words, by letting the different disciplines speak in their own languages. The talk also explored the model of a university-wide course on visual experience, which would act as a corrective to the almost exclusively humanities-based perspective of existing "visual culture" courses while also acknowledging the visual nature of much of contemporary research and experience, over and against the emphasis in most curricula on words and equations.


The Michaelis Galleries

With some 200 square meters of state of the art gallery space, the Michaelis Galleries host a wide range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. The constellation of spaces includes a large main space, an adjacent white cube, a long upstairs gallery and a satellite space in the Rosedale Building.

Regular collaborations with alumni and local and international visual arts organizations bring noteworthy art shows to these venues. As a result, the galleries have hosted such important projects as prints by world-renowned South African artist William Kentridge and work by British Turner Prize winner Steve Mc Queen.

The galleries provide a unique opportunity for staff and students of the university to exhibit their artworks or curated exhibitions in a non-commercial, experimental space. The galleries also form an invaluable teaching resource, allowing students to learn and hone curatorial and exhibition design and management skills.

Whilst the gallery complex is unique in that it is situated on a university campus, it is open to visitors from the general public. In keeping with a mission of promoting and celebrating the visual arts in a broad community context, the gallery regularly presents open lectures, walkabouts and workshops.

It is also at this venue that works from the many remarkable UCT art and manuscript collections (including the Katrine Harries Print Cabinet and the Works of Art Collection) are at times exhibited. These collections range from rare depictions of Cape scenes in early 19th century watercolours and prints from the masters of South African art, such as Maggie Laubser, Walter Battiss and Cyprian Shilakoe, to works representing the pinnacle of contemporary South African art production.

The gallery shop adjacent to the main space gives visitors an opportunity to see examples of work from the Michaelis School of Fine Art staff, and to purchase catalogues from previous student and staff exhibitions.

Centenary celebration of Hiddingh Hall library

In September 2011, the Hiddingh Hall Library celebrated its centenary with an Open Day and an exhibit of archival images and documents pertaining to the history of the library. A comprehensive history of the library, compiled by Tanya Barben (Rare Books and Special Collections Librarian) can be found here. Whilst the foundation stone of Hiddingh Hall was laid in 1910, the completion and official opening of the library took place on 29th September 1911. The foundation stone, which can be seen in the foyer of Hiddingh Hall, has recently been restored. The building was funded by the bequest of Dr W. Hiddingh in 1911, and its ground floor became the home of the College Library, at first under the librarianship of Professor Logeman. (1) A selection of digital prints of the original plans of the building will be displayed in the library. Twenty plans in total, from the offices of the famous architect Herbert Baker, are housed by Manuscripts & Archives in the Baker Collection.

The library underwent a number of changes over the years, both to its collections and the building itself. After the appointment of Mr R.F.M. Immelman as University Librarian in 1940, a number of donations allowed for new staff and stock but also necessitated the addition of a wing to the Hiddingh Hall Library. (1) Paul Weinberg (Senior Curator, Visual Archives) and Janine Dunlop (Librarian, Digital Initiatives Unit) have been instrumental in the digitization of these precious archival resources. A set of digitized photographs of the library from the past century will also be on show. Originally housing the entire library collection of the South African College, the library today is a specialist library of Fine Art and Drama related resources (books, journals, theses and portfolios). As well as this rich set of holdings, the Library displays a number of works made by staff members and other Michaelis affiliates for the Curiosity CLXXV exhibition as well other works form the Works of Art and Hans Porer Loan Collections, including photographs by Guy Tillim, prints by Malcolm Payne and Pippa Skotnes and paintings by Marion Arnold.

The Hiddingh Hall library staff is made up, at present, of Caitlin Miller, Kashiefa Shade Lucas, Peter Vries and Solvej Vorster

The Open Day took place on Thursday 29th September 2011.

Reference: (1) Barben, Tanya The Sapling that grew into a Tree: 100 years of the University of Cape Town Libraries (2005).

Historic Hiddingh Campus

Historic Hiddingh Campus

In September 2011, Second Year Fine Art Students were asked to engage with the historic archive that is Hiddingh Campus as part of their Core Drawing Intervention Project. Initiated by Fritha Langerman, and taught by Julia Rosa Clark, the project encourages students to engage with the contemporary and historical spatial dynamics and significances of their immediate campus environment through investigation, observation, mapping, archival research and art making.

Works of art, in the form of performance or intervention (temporary installations or disruptions), are then devised in response to this research and presented in situ across campus. Students are also asked to consider forms of documentation -ways of recording and archiving– these temporary artworks through the use of moving image, photography, text, anecdote and other means. Hiddingh Campus is centrally located on Orange Street, at the foot of Table Mountain, in close proximity to the historic Mount Nelson Hotel, Labia Cinema, Government Avenue, SA Museum, Iziko National Gallery and the Company’s Gardens. It is home to the oldest extant structure of the University of Cape Town, The Egyptian Building, now housing sculpture workshops and studios. This striking Neo-Classical building was completed and officially opened in 1841 on land granted by Sir Benjamin D'urban. It is the first building to be built for the express purpose of higher education in South Africa. Professor A.N.E Changuion, whose textbooks were some of the first published in South Africa, began the first classes in this new school location with a mere sixteen students. The University of Cape Town was actually established twelve years earlier, founded in 1829, as the South African College, a high school for boys based in the Orphanage off Long Street.

The Orange Street location of the Egyptian building had been a Zoo, in the late eighteenth century, replete with lion’s dens and a small lake that supposedly housed a hippo! After the move from Long Street in 1841, the College, saw its small tertiary-education facility grow substantially –particularly after 1880, when the discovery of gold and diamonds in the north, and the resulting demand for skills in mining - gave it the financial boost it needed.

The College developed into a fully-fledged university during the period 1880 to 1900, thanks to increased funding from private sources and the government. Over that time a number of structures where built on this Orange Street quadrant of land including, amongst others, Hiddingh Hall (funded by the bequest of Dr W. Hiddingh in 1911), The Zoology and Botany Building (at present, named the Michaelis Building housing general Fine Art & Painting studios), The Physics Laboratory (currently part of the Drama Department), The Chemistry Laboratory (now functioning as The Little Theatre), the Commerce Building (still named such, but housing sculpture studios and rehearsal rooms) and the Anatomy & Pathology Building (now known as the Old Medical School Building, home to ARC and CCA). The Quad Building, whose function has changed many times since its construction (on the site of a former slave lodge), now houses amongst other things the Michaelis Galleries.

Many of the buildings on this campus where designed in the office of famous architect, Herbert Baker, and their plans can be found in the Baker Collection, in Manuscripts & Archives.


UCT Website

The History of the SA College: 1829-1918 (2 volumes), by William Ritchie (Maskew Miller, Cape Town, 1918)

The History of the University of Cape Town 1928-1948: The Formative Years, by Howard Phillips.

In the shadow of Table Mountain. A history of the University of Cape Town Medical School. JH Louw. 1969. Struik, Cape Town. 


'Threshold' was an exhibition of environmentally engaged art held in the Michaelis Gallery in October 2011, curated by Michaelis senior-lecturer Virginia MacKenny, as part of her 2011 Donald Gordon Creative Arts Award. It responds, in part, to the most pressing concern of our time; that of climate change. The exhibition, as its title suggests, engaged the premise that not only are the climatic conditions of the planet at a tipping point, but that we need to renegotiate our relationship to the planet, this place we call home. The exhibition was thus as much to do with perception, and the garnering of visual acuity and observation in the process of witnessing, as it was with environmental awareness. Encouraging our ability to notice and be attentive to both optical and conceptual perceptions better equips us to actively embody our custodianship of the planet.

Loosely built around the presence of the four elements earth, fire, water and air the exhibition revealed changes in the environment through reference to traditional genres of art such as landscape and flower painting. An example of work that exemplifies this was Andrew Putter’s digital articulation of indigenous flora from South Africa in the guise of Dutch 17th century flower paintings. While commenting on colonialism in Africa his utilisation of the vanities form was a reminder of broader issues of mortality and contemporary extinctions.

UCT engineers help make medical history

From the UCT website:

If nature abhors a vacuum, it sometimes needs a helping hand to fill the gaps.

A push - or, to be more exact, a tug - is exactly what a team made up of UCT mechanical engineer Dr George Vicatos, his MSc student James Boonzaier and maxillo-facial oral surgeon Dr Rushdi Hendricks offered nature. In a benchmarking and already award-winning piece of surgery - likely a world first - in September, they harnessed some established surgical principles and fine metalwork to rebuild a patient's entire missing palate. 

But instead of tucking in a prosthetic or a bone graft, as is common, they simply coaxed the palate to seal itself. 

A cleft palate is, basically, a hole in the roof of the mouth where the palate should be. It's typically formed when the body's natural structures don't fuse as they should before birth. Usually these clefts are filled by surgery soon after birth or in early childhood. 

The problem also remains common among adults, such as when cancerous palates are removed in later life, for example.


Curated by Michaelis lecturer Fabian Saptouw, Context drew together artists who use the book-object as a conceptual point of departure for the exploration of the printed text. The artists’ projects engage the history, value and institutional importance afforded to the book-object. The works on display grappled with the materiality and influence of the idea of the book and the way the notion of the book is related to artistic practice.

Traditional approaches to the production and preservation of books were artistically explored through loans from public and private collections, including the UCT Rare Books library. Other pieces on display included book-printing equipment such as movable type and printer’s quoins, exhibited alongside the art of prominent and emerging artists.

Participating artists:

Fritha Langerman, Colin Richards, Pippa Skotnes, Phillip Raath, Chloe Reid, Morne Visagie and Fabian Saptouw. 
For further information or images please contact Nadja Daehnke on 021 480 7170 / 0823165272 /  

Artist in Residence: Mark Dion

Item from Mark Dion's works

Mark Dion (born 1961) is an American artist best known for working across many disciplines and for his use of scientific presentations in his installations. Dion has exhibited internationally, including at theTate and the Museum of Modern Art. He has received numerous awards, and lives and works in New York. Mark Dion used the Michaelis Upper Gallery as a studio during his residency at Michaelis in February, working on a project based on the Schildbach Xylotheque that is on exhibition at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany, this year.  

Imperfect librarian

Imperfect Librarian: 12 - 26 March 2012 at the Michaelis Galleries

Clare Butcher
Andrew Putter
Jessica Brown
Joanne Bloch
Brenton Maart
George Mahashe
Jon Whidden

Presenting works-in-progress that have been developed over the past year, the group enters into 'the library' a set of unorthodox practices and materials which challenge the notion of archival practice. Taking its title from Jorges Luis Borges's short story, Library of Babel, the exhibition reflects on the unusual research paths, unruly classificatory systems and multiple dimensions operational in the production of history.

'What we hope you find as you meander through the maze of this exhibition is a set of care-full responses, manoeuvres, unfaithful facsimiles and commentaries upon commentaries which expose the support structures of history - the moments we catch sight of ourselves in the archive's mirror', reads the exhibition text.

Curator Clare Butcher's research focuses on the history of curating contemporary art in South Africa, beginning with a case study from an international exhibition exchange between Britain and South Africa in 1948. By foregrounding some of the usually unseen logistics and logics at play in the making of a contemporary art show, Butcher seeks to raise awareness of the historical mechanisms used to display 'the spirit of the now'.

Health sciences turns 100

Health Science turns 100

Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor Marian Jacobs, writes about the faculty's centenary celebrations this year:

2012 is a special year for the Faculty of Health Sciences: we have the privilege of celebrating a remarkable milestone on 6 June, 100 years after the first medical school buildings, Anatomy and Physiology, were opened on Hiddingh Campus in 1912. Our centenary gives us the opportunity to reflect on the past, to celebrate the present, and to plan for building towards the next centenary - three goals that represent the three themes of our celebrations, and which have also been colour-coded in our logo.

And we have much to celebrate. As the oldest medical school in sub-Saharan Africa, we can look back on our remarkable achievements, having educated some of the finest minds in the country, and having produced some of the greatest medical advances - such as the world's first successful human heart transplant in 1967, as well as the research that led to the development of the CAT scanner - all right here, from our base at the tip of Africa!

The old Anatomy and Physiology building on Hiddingh Campus, now housing the Centre for Curating the Archive.

Online exhibition of Martin West collection

Emeritus Professor Martin West's evocative collection of photographs, taken of the Africa Independent Churches in Soweto between 1969 and 1971, show a segment of society hidden to most South Africans.

By the end of the 19th century, two streams of Christianity emerged in South Africa and became the focus of West's research: the Ethiopian and Zionist movements. This research culminated in his book Bishops and Prophets in a Black City, published in the 1970s.

The young social scientist took hundreds of images, capturing baptisms, sacrificial slaughters, prayer meetings, healing services, and vignettes of everyday life in Soweto.

The site includes scans of the entire book, Bishops and Prophets in a Black City.

Annex Residency Programme

The Annex Residency Programme and resident artist Emilio Moreno are pleased to invite you to ENTANGLED IN STORIES: an evening of storytelling with José Manuel de Prada-Samper & Helena Cuesta on WEDNESDAY 22 AUGUST, 2012, 5:45 for 6PM at THE ANNEX BUILDING, GOVERNMENT AVE., COMPANY GARDENS, CAPE TOWN

José Manuel de Prada-Samper (Salamanca, Spain) studied at the University of Barcelona, Columbia University (NY), and the University of Alcalá de Henares with a thesis about the lion stories of the /Xam San. He is currently working in South Africa as a post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for Curating the Archive at the University of Cape Town's Hiddingh campus. Helena Cuesta (Valladolid, Spain) studied History of Art and Medieval History at the university in her home town because, in her own words, 'I like to see things from different points of view and also, because I like to look into the past to better understand the present and contribute to build a better future.' For more information about José and Helena’s background and activities go to the website.

Emilio Moreno (Ávila, Spain), the first artist in residence of the Annex Residency Programme, is interested in how the notion of history is constructed and the porousness between history/stories. See more information about Emilio's practice and his research process in South Africa here.

The Annex Residency Programme is a new initiative stationed at the Annex building next to the South African National Gallery, Cape Town. Working in close collaboration with the Iziko Museums Education & Public Programming as well as Art Collections, the programme seeks to make unlikely connections between people, places and practices. For more information on the current artist in residency and upcoming events please refer to the Annex Residency Programme website and sign up on our mailing list by contacting

Curatorial intervention in the Archaeology department

The Archaeology Department’s foyer has been transformed into a permanent exhibition about the department. The installation includes materials from the department’s storerooms, personal collections from members of staff and engages with fieldwork-archives and the interpretation and curation of such materials. This project exemplifies ARC’s mandate to draw material out of the university’s columbarium and interrogate a discipline, its’ practitioners and visual methodologies through curation.

The installation was opened at a special event on 2 October, 2012.