No. of comments: 24


Women’s Day is upon us, which means we can expect four five things:

* Meaningless speeches by politicians (presumably our president knows about the importance of women; he’s consorted with enough of them).
* Ghastly twee sermonising about the Importance of Women.
* Women’s Day ad campaigns for ugly furniture.
* Debates about whether Women’s Day makes any meaningful difference (for Helen Moffet’s brilliant rant on the pointlessness of Women’s Day, read here).
* Groupon handbag offers.

I’d like to skewer those marketers who so cynically exploit a day meant to commemorate the 1956 march of 20 000 women on the Union Buildings but that would make me a total hypocrite, because I’m taking advantage of it as much as anyone. All my clients will be putting out Women’s Day tweets, and I’m launching a Women’s Month exhibition, so I’m as bad as OK Furniture.

The only thing I can say in my defence is that half of the proceeds from the sale of each of the 31 hearts at the 31 days 31 ways exhibition will go to Home of Hope, which I’ve blogged about before.

Why hearts, you ask, and why 31 of them? Well, I didn’t want to hold an exhibition of Johannesburg-themed work so soon after my exhibition at Velo. I needed a concept, and because I started painting angry sad broken hearts after being dumped in March 2010, I thought a heart for every day of August made sense. 31 is doubly significant, of course, because August 31 is my birthday, and I’m dreading it.

older i get

So, 31 hearts, 31 different and contradictory ways to be a woman.

The title of the exhibition is “Seeing Life Feelingly”. It was inspired by a quote from Shakespeare’s King Lear: “I see it feelingly,” Gloucester says in one scene, and this is how I see both my art and my experience as a woman. I chose hearts because we all love (even me) and we all feel, and hearts are one of those iconic shapes we can all relate to – the whole point is to raise money by selling them after all, so they need to have a market. All of them are beautifully framed, and the idea is that there is something for everyone, from sisters to friends, from the happy to the heartbroken. They’re R300 each; R150 goes to cover the costs of materials and the high quality framing, and R150 goes to the NGO.

No ghastly twee sermonising though. Often occasions like Women’s Day and Women’s Month prompt us to celebrate with glutinous outpourings of sentiment that homogenise our human quirks. We are women, filled with both light and dark. Our imperfections make us who we are. The exhibition celebrates that and gives others an opportunity to take home a piece of it while helping to raise funds to give vulnerable girls who would otherwise face a short and nasty life on the streets of Hillbrow a shot at going to university and taking charge of their own lives.

It’s a small difference. A very small one. But small differences matter too.

The exhibition will be up for the duration of August. Come along to Odd Café at 4pm on August 9 for a themed menu including choc chilli cupcakes and gluhwein. If you can’t make it then, there will be plenty more opportunities to come along and buy a piece of work for a really good cause.



  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.


Sarah Britten

During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.

Leave a comment