Amy-Jo Windt

Amy-Jo Windt from The COLLECTIVE gallery has been working super hard to build a platform for artists to showcase their work and strengthen our creative community. We get a behind the scenes look on what it takes to run a gallery and how fellow Durbanites have responded to their setup.



DIY: For the uneducated and naive, including us, what exactly does a gallery curator do?
Amy Jo: Well basically, a curator is the one who decides and agrees on what exhibitions will be hung. Keeps an eye out for up and coming talent, and researches new trends. I don’t really like the term though, makes me sound snooty, I’m more of a jack-of-all-trades around here.


DIY: How long have you had the job at The Collective for now? What aspects of it have surprised you and what lessons have you had to learn the hard way?
Amy Jo: Well I have been here since the beginning; I helped in opening the gallery. We have been open for just over a year now. Well I think what has surprised me the most is the lack of understanding, amongst local artists, what a gallery actually does. I think the hardest lesson learned is how much work actually goes into running a small independent gallery, especially in Durban.



DIY: What thoughts do you have on the Durban art community as a whole? Is it quite divided? Does The Collective take any measures to bridge that divide between the more established fine art community and the new sort of ‘Young Durban Artists’ (for lack of a better term) group that’s coming through?
Amy Jo: It is fairly divided, when actually we should join forces instead of butting heads so the rest of the country finally takes us seriously. I think artists as a whole need to support each other more, and go to as many shows as possible as everyone has to start somewhere. We have a lot of talent in Durban, and I think sadly a lot of it is overlooked most of the time. I have seen a gradual improvement over the last six months, but I think there is a long way to go. We at the COLLECTIVE do try and organize both ‘Fine Art’ and ‘Young Durban Art’ exhibitions, but at the end of the day, it is up to the artists themselves to make the step to get involved in each other’s events. We have organized exhibitions such as ‘Lines of Thought’ and ‘Black and Blue’, where both groups participated and there was a great response. We hope this will encourage other such initiatives, but we as a gallery can only do so much.



DIY: What guidelines do you use when approving exhibitions at The Collective? Is there a certain standard that artists work have to meet? Who determines whether that standard has been met or not?
Amy Jo: It is hard to pinpoint the exact guidelines for the exhibitions, as it differs for each show. We as a team select whether works will be shown or not, and at the end of the day, we are here for up and coming artists, and even though work might not be up to the highest standard, everyone needs a chance to showcase their work, even once. We offer guidelines and give feedback to any artists on how to improve on their work etc.


DIY: Every now and then there seems to be grumbling about The COLLECTIVE’s commission percentages being pretty high on certain exhibitions, specifically those tailored for young artists. What are your thoughts on this? Is there a sort of national average that galleries charge or is it completely dependant on the venue?
Amy Jo: Firstly there is no national average with commissions taken, each gallery decides on their own percentage. Some galleries take commission as high as 60%, so in the scheme of things we are fairly low, and do adjust our percentages depending on different exhibitions. Secondly, I think people need to consider what goes into the running of an independent gallery. We do not get any funding. It needs to be considered that we are not guaranteed that percentage at the end of the day, and can only make so much off gallery rental which does not fully cover our costs of salaries of gallery staff, rental, electricity, water, supplies, paint. Gallery rental and commission aren’t just for exhibiting; they include preparation leading up to the show, us hanging your works, advertising, band on opening nights, etc.



DIY: What do young artists need to consider before they even think of having their own show? Any advice you are willing to share?
Amy Jo: A lot of work goes into planning and having your own show, and I would first think about having a group show with like-minded up and coming artists. Volunteering at different art galleries and institutions will also help in gaining understanding in what having an exhibition is all about. That is also one of the reasons we are here is to answer questions of any artists who want to show their works.


DIY: What exhibitions have been the most successful with the public? What do you think is the recipe for success in terms of exhibiting?
Amy Jo: Our ‘Lines of Thought’ exhibition has been one of the most successful so far. With participation and attendance throughout the exhibition. I have a theory about an exhibition’s success and that it all depends on the artists; the broader your network, the more people will support, and that’s the truth. I sometimes feel it is unfortunate that the socially unknown artists don’t get as much support as their more social counterparts. I think it is well-deserved the amount of support that the some exhibitions get due to the artists popularity, as the work is up to a very high standard, but I sometimes wish the lesser knowns would get some of that support too.



DIY: Do you think the popularity and use of online platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, Behance and other ‘exhibiting’ sites have negated the need for galleries, especially on a grassroots level? With allowing events like Cake or Death to take place were you, and are you, trying to reinvent or at least change the perception of a gallery as just a place to display/view art?
Amy Jo: No I don’t think so. I feel those sites are very important, and give artists a great platform to have their works seen by a greater audience, but at the end of the day there is nothing like seeing the work itself whether it be printed, painted, sculpted etc.

Well as our name suggests, we are about collective creativity. Music is a form of creativity, and we feel it is as important to showcase the up and coming musicians just as much as the visual artists. We have also started getting in local designers into our small ‘Shop’, where they can showcase and permanently sell their goods. It is open to Jewelry, toy and any other designers out there who have a product to sell.



DIY: What can everyone look forward to seeing at this years Follow Your Art exhibition?
Amy Jo: We have a variety of different artists this year, much like last. So photography, prints, and painting will be on display. There will be different events structured throughout the exhibition, and the opening night is definitely not to be missed. There will be a live art performance by Mooki Chapman, a tattoo showcase by I Art Ink and a live music performance by the newly formed ‘The Pie Keys’. It will be a fun filled evening and give a taste of things to come. We will also be having a tattoo showcase done by Lola Malone at some point in the exhibition, so watch our Facebook and blog for more details.


DIY: What have you got in store for the second half of the year for all the art lovers reading this?
Amy Jo: We have a fair number of art colleges and university yearly shows in the next few months, which is always great to catch the up and coming talent as it emerges. A call for artists will be put out towards the end of the year for our next interactive exhibition, as well our very first fashion exhibition coming up next month.


We look forward to it and appreciate all the hard work you are putting in for our creative community. Head on down to The COLLECTIVE tonight and support your local artists at Follow Your Art – we need it.


Image courtesy of Simone Mary Homes

2 Responses to “Amy-Jo Windt”
  1. Kat says:

    Love the Collective :o) Thank you!!

  2. Amy says:

    I really love The Collective, and what you guys are trying to do for the Durban Art and Design scene. I think it is important to give young up-and-comers the chance to showcase their work and unfortunately in Durban there is often a situation of people only going out to support exhibitions of already popular artists/designers. The Collective had created a platform for young creatives to get recognition if it’s deserved. They’ve also done so well at creating a chilled out place for people to hang out and have a coffee or soda. I think that all you guys involved with running The Collective are to be commended on the hard work and long hours you put into making the gallery a great place for and Durbanites. Well done Amy-Jo!

Leave A Comment