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Lewis, Jo (2008) Women Artists in Botswana in the Late Twentieth Century. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Women have always played a large part in the visual arts throughout Africa. In Botswana at the present time this is illustrated most immediately by the woven baskets, seen everywhere, in galleries, shops and at roadside stalls, that have come to represent the country and its arts and crafts; and with the odd exception they are all made by women in the most rural areas. However, women in Botswana currently practice other arts, including house decoration and pottery, although, for a variety of reasons, these are less immediately obvious. In contrast to these practices, representing traditions inherited from the past, there are others of relatively recent inception. Since the 1980s Botswana has seen the emergence of a small number of women 'Fine' artists, some of whom are Botswana nationals while others are expatriates settled in the country. In contrast to arts made for immediate local use, or sold in roadside stalls, the work of these artists is exhibited in the few art galleries that now exist. During the same period, art education has also been gradually introduced into the school and university system in Botswana. Art galleries both private and public are another recent development, beginning with the National Museums and Monuments Art Gallery, which opened in 1978, and which began to facilitate local exhibitions of Botswana art, while also encouraging exhibitions of this material in other countries. In addition to local tradition and an emerging Fine Art practice, art education, museums and galleries, a series of workshops has also been developed. Some of these were set up by expatriates on a more-or-less permanent basis with the aim of training women in various art forms, while others are temporary and artist-led, giving selected groups of artists the chance to meet, work and exchange ideas. I begin this thesis, therefore, with a survey of all the arts inherited from the past, and currently practised by women in Botswana, and then, in a series of chapters I look at each of the developments, including art education, museums and galleries, and workshops; and their histories, their aims, and their achievements with particular regard to the overall development of the arts in Botswana. This thesis thereby provides a comprehensive study of all the arts practised by women in Botswana through the last thirty years.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:21

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