Clare C. O. Hart

a brief biography

Clare and James Hart 1968 Clare C. O. Hart M. Sc., is a graduate of Lady Mabel College, Yorkshire, England [1956] from where she received her diploma in Physical Education from the University of Sheffield.  At Lady Mable College Clare specialized in Art and English Language and obtained certification to coach at the olympic level in long jump and hurdles. She is a silver medalist in Ballroom Dancing from the Ballroom Dancing Institute of Great Britain. Following graduation she taught High School in England and, in 1960, moved to Moscow, USSR, where she taught at the Anglo-American diplomatic school for a year.  In 1961 Clare moved to Johannesburg, South Africa and taught at the Haring School of Swimming and the Johannesburg School of Physical Education. Her three sons Vaughan, James and Anthony were all born in South Africa.

Moving to the USA in 1966 Clare completed a combined Master of Science degree in Dance and Anthropology at Louisiana State University [1975], presenting a thesis on The significance of the Mask in African Dance.

Abstract:  "The most common form of African sculpture is the mask.  The thesis was an attempt to demonstrate the function of the mask and describe the several types of masks and masked costumes used in masquaerades.  The multiplicity of function served by masquerade performances was illustrated by decribing the masked dances performed by several different ethnic groups in Black Africa.
Cultural practices associated with the masking tradition were noted for all the groups studied and cross cultural comparisons made among them to determine whether any common practices exist.
The major findings of the study were that masquerades are less powerful instruments of government than they were fifty years ago, and they are now performed mainly as a method of catharsis and for entertainment. Masquerades are performed today mainly by groups adhering to traditional animistic beliefs; the advent of Islamization or Christianization has tended to discourage the use of representational art.  The most common cultural traits are that masking is predominantly a male role; sculpturing is a totally male profession; all groups studies are agriculturalists; and descent is traced partilineally in almos all cases."

Clare Hart's special interests include African masks, and fabrics from Peninsular India.