Coral began her career as a teacher in the township Eldorado Park, in Johannesburg, and has continued to grapple with the nature of effective education all her life. She feels strongly, that when it comes to preparing young people for the future, we can no longer perpetuate the delusion that those in positions of authority will guide us, employ us, and rescue us – or that playing by the restricting rules will ensure success. She wants to find courageous and audacious ways of exploring her own possibilities, in public, that encourage others to risk exploring theirs. To this end she tends to disrupt the established conventions of the spaces she works in.
This doesn’t mean she is uncomfortable with high-level strategic thinking. She has served as a Curriculum Advisor in Arts and Culture for the Gauteng Education Department. She was also part of the MTN Foundation (previously known as the MTN Art Institute), developing a Corporate Collection and Art Education programme early in 1999 that took original artworks to townships, peri-urban and rural areas. Her skills as a programme and project manager and her willingness to risk innovative approaches to development, have benefitted young people and artists all over the country. As director of the Visual Arts and Crafts Academy she worked together with consultants to empower young artists with entrepreneurial and creative thinking skills. While at Creates SA/MAPPP SETA she assessed the capacity needs of service providers in the creative industries, developed training material and more efficient accreditation processes.
When she was Senior Manager for Capacity Development at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, among fundraising and other projects, she worked with local crafters and artists to push their skills to new edges beyond the clichés of tourist curios. Within a short space of time some of these artists were able to show their work at the KZNSA Gallery during the 2010 world cup and display their sculptural works at Uqgozi l’wentembende – spirit of the long rope, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 2011. Through this process Coral engaged the rural-urban divide critically and creatively, and empowered local communities to explore a more dynamic relationship between their own development and the protection of the National Heritage Site they lived in.
Alongside developing and refining skills of creative expression Coral encourages people to engage the unspoken stories they carry around in their bodies. When Coral conceptually and strategically developed the Voices of Women Museum (www.amazwi-voicesofwomen.com), within a small Trust, she provided the space, the means and the confidence for women to exhibit and continue to embroider personal traumas and victories onto memory cloths in a cathartic process that became the travelling exhibition, Conversations We Do Not Have (2012 – 2015). The Voices of Women Museum has conserved a collection of 3000 pieces from a process that spanned more than 10 years before she came on board, and 7 years since her involvement.
Many of these stories speak of stolen dreams. In the Dreams, Wishes and Expectations at the Voices of Women Museum in 2017, and then Dreams, Wishes and Expectations_RECYCLED at the Castle of Good Hope in 2019 (in collaboration with the MTN Foundation), she used artworks that privilege women’s voices to facilitate a critical reflection on the past, and to present the idea of daring to dream as a form of protest – moving beyond compromise as a strategy for survival. In her letter to Jan van Riebeek she asks, ‘Wat doe je als dromen worden gestolen? (What do you do when dreams are stolen?).
As part of a small team, she worked on the development of the National Art Bank project by the Department of Arts and Culture that presented concepts and strategies for emerging artists to sell their work and for government to invest in a Collection of artworks for rent. Coral’s role also involved working on definitions of the numerous art terms used in the document as well as developing the intellectual/copyright aspect of the project in line with legislative practises here and abroad. Considerations for a business case were an important aspect of the strategy as well as to highlight challenges for its implementation, develop an implementation plan and 5-year strategy.
She has developed exhibits and managed the publishing project for the dual language epic novels by Mazisi Kunene, Ndodumehlzei KaMenzi and Emperor Shaka the Great with a team of 6 editors; and other creative projects at the Mazisi Kunene Foundation and Museum.
For the past 10 years, Coral has engaged her own art practise working in multi-media 2D and 3D forms as well as installations that challenge people to risk engaging the connections that make the living world. In 2015 she was selected as a finalist for her installation concept for the National Language Museum in Grahamstown. She has graduated summa cum laude in her Honours degree in Gender Studies through the University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2019.