When I found my way to the Artists’ Press last year, there was a forest fire raging dangerously close to this sleek, yet casual studio tucked in the rolling hills of Mpumalanga, South Africa. Despite flames visible just a few miles away, the charming Mark and Tamar calmly showed me around their space, where they just happened to be doing a special print commission for William Kentridge, an impossibly complicated replica of torn layers and ink washes. As we moved from table to table, drawer to drawer, Tamar pulled out endless treasures — prints and artist’s proofs from the likes of Claudette Schreuders and Dumisani Mabaso, as well as the incredible emerging artists that the Artists’ Press represents — that I began to run out of new ways to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ over the works they shared.
I left the Press fighting the urge to ‘rescue’ Mark, Tamar, their adorable children, and the amazing repository of art they possess from the fire that was even closer than when I arrived. (The assured me they’d be fine, and they were.) Ever since, I’ve been dreaming about buying up dozens of prints, but unfortunately, my art budget hasn’t exactly been where I’d like it to be recently.
It seems it’s true what they say: when America sneezes, the world gets a cold. So while the much-discussed economic crisis is sitting heavily on America, it’s settling in even thicker on the many nations who tie their economies so closely to theirs. So perhaps now is a great time to show those nations some support by forgetting the stock market and treating yourself to a real investment — in your art portfolio.
The Artists’ Press is an ideal first stop to broaden your artistic horizons or find a great gift for the artie on your holiday shopping list. And, with the exchange rate currently hovering around ten rand to one American dollar (where last year’s average was between six and seven rand per dollar), there are bargains to be had, even when you factor in shipping and insurance, which, of course, Mark will happily to arrange for you.