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Celebrating the Life and Work of Peter Clarke in Listening to Distant Thunder by Elizabeth Rankin and Philippa Hobbs

Listening to Distant ThunderPresenting the first book to explore the life and work of Peter Clarke: Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke by Elizabeth Rankin and Philippa Hobbs.

Originally published by the Standard Bank as part of a curated exhibition in May 2011, this prestigious volume celebrates the life and works of Peter Clarke (1929–2014), one of South Africa’s foremost artists. A mere 500 copies were originally published, all taken up at the exhibition, and continued demand has led to its rerelease. Clarke left his job as a dockworker in Simon’s Town to devote himself to art. The wisdom of this decision is reflected in a remarkable career, which extended over some six decades and was acknowledged in the awards of the Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) in 2005 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Listening to Distant Thunder: The Art of Peter Clarke recounts an artist’s life in the context of the social history of South Africa from the 1940s onwards. His images reflect the social disruption of the Cape Flats, and the trauma of his community’s forced removal from Simon’s Town to the bleak apartheid township of Ocean View. Yet Clarke’s images have avoided bitterness, and his work is a perceptive scrutiny and celebration of life in all its aspects.

Illustrated with over 200 reproductions and photographs, this book was researched and written by well-known South African art historians Philippa Hobbs and Elizabeth Rankin, in close collaboration with the artist, over almost seven years.

About the authors

Elizabeth Rankin was appointed Professor of Art History at the University of Auckland in 1998, after many years of service at the University of the Witwatersrand. Since the late 1980s, her many publications and exhibitions have focused on recovering the stories of artists who have been little researched, particularly sculptors and printmakers.

Philippa Hobbs holds post-graduate qualifications in Fine Art and History of Art. She is currently the curator of the MTN Art Collection and manages the Arts and Culture Portfolio at the MTN Foundation. She is also a Research Fellow of the University of Johannesburg: Visual Identities in Art and Design.

Book details


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