Solidarity Banner Image with Ears (high)

Apr 3 – Apr 23, 2020



A digital exhibition in support of South Africa’s Solidarity Fund

3 - 23 April 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s establishment of the Solidarity Fund, the Everard Read galleries present a digital exhibition of works by eminent South African artists, with 50% of the gallery proceeds going to the Fund, after artist payments.

As South Africa confronts a health and economic crisis unlike any other in the history of its democracy, our artists and staff wish to contribute to the collective effort to help prevent the spread of the virus, care for those who are ill, and support those whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Staring Straight to the Future brings together almost 50 artists from across South Africa. In addition to directing half the proceeds to the Solidarity Fund, the exhibition also aims to continue to sustain the livelihoods of many self-employed artists as well as studio and foundry staff. 

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Participating artists include: Sanell Aggenbach, Beth Diane Armstrong, Beezy Bailey, Wayne Barker, Liberty Battson, Deborah Bell, Nic Bladen, Norman Catherine, Wilma Cruise, Guy du Toit, Ricky Dyaloyi, Faith XLVII, Liza Grobler, Sasha Hartslief, Lee-Ann Heath, Phillemon Hlungwani, Stephen Inggs, Vusi Khumalo, Teresa Kutala Firmino, Lady Skollie, Dylan Lewis, Nelson Makamo, John Meyer, Denby Meyer, Michael MacGarry, Colbert Mashile, Setlamorago Mashilo, Anton Momberg, Brett Murray, Lucinda Mudge, Nigel Mullins, Velaphi Mzimba, Blessing Ngobeni, Caryn Scrimgeour, Mmakgabo Sebidi, Bambo Sibiya, Lionel Smit, Gary Stephens, Penelope Stutterheime, Angus Taylor, Andrzej Urbanski, Shany van den Berg, Leigh Voigt, Harold Voigt, Walter Voigt, Barbara Wildenboer & Florian Wozniak.

For more information please contact:

LONDON Georgie Shields / +44 7785 227581

CAPE TOWN Charles Shields / +27 83 450 0915

JOHANNESBURG Mark Read / +27 83 441 8064

To make a donation to the Fund directly visit:

In selecting this body of work, it was striking to us how poignant these artworks had become in the context of an impending universal lockdown and a time of isolation and separation from so much of what makes us human. Industry, community, nature, exercise, revelry – whipped away in the space of a few weeks for an indeterminate time, leaving us to practise the more subtle arts of being human: restraint, compassion, meditation, contemplation, interiority. These are the preserve of artists most of the time, who almost invariably work in isolation. Little wonder then that their reflections on the world, which might – in times of Trumpian pomp, voracious excess and garrulous glitter – be crowded out by louder voices, now seem to be amplified by the eerie silence settling on our humbled ears.

Could Brett Murray have anticipated that his anthropomorphic donkeys, clinging together in the face of populism and the Twitter Nostra, would serve as amplified icons of citizens in the face of a pandemic and unprecedented imposition of what amounts to martial law? Or could Deborah Bell, whose Sentinels (2020) were conceived as Gatekeepers for Humanity – holding the centre in a chaotic world – have imagined the scale of the tsunami from which we might need protection? Or could Blessing Ngobeni have imagined his grotesque metaphor for a failed state might transmogrify into a Yeatsian Rough Beast, slouching forth to some unknown destination? Could Ricky Dyaloyi have imagined how his depiction of the clamouring streets of Khayelitsha titled Feisty Survivors might become both an ode to resilience and a prayer for clemency? And could Sanell Aggenbach have created a more fitting monument to tenderness and tragedy than her Madre Pietà?

Besides these grand narratives, what many of the works in this exhibition bring into focus is the preciousness of what just last month might have seemed banal. The talismanic quality of a landscape from which we are now forbidden induces nostalgia and hope for better times. The already unimaginable intimacy of a passionate dance in a packed club. The table setting for one, the artist working alone. The child wandering down the street ostensibly in deep thought with the challenge scrawled next to her – ‘the world doesn’t give a fuck about you….’.

These and the abstract works that serve as internal landscapes and meditations exhort us to introspection. The title of this show (and the title of the artwork by Bambo Sibiya), Staring Straight to the Future, aims to resonate as a tender anthem, giving succour in some way, encouraging gratitude for what we’ve had and – hopefully – inspiration for what we will seek out when this time is over.

Our gratitude to all the artists, the ultimate entrepreneurs who miraculously make something from nothing, and the Solidarity Fund, whose work is no doubt just beginning.

– Charles Shields