ABOUT MY ARTWORK
Printmaking is my chosen medium, working predominantly with etching and monotype techniques, and more recently, some experimental artworks using mixed media. Originally trained as a Graphic Designer, the transition to the graphic forms of printmaking in the past decade seemed a natural progression for me.
I am fascinated by the many techniques printmaking encompasses, including etching, monotype, collograph, drypoint, cyanotype and linocut.
It gives me great joy to share this inspiration and ignite a similar passion in others through my creative practice, which includes teaching classes and giving workshops at my studio.
I find that each printmaking process allows for exploration into different ways of seeing and for excavating meaning in an image.
I am perpetually inspired by the mindfulness of the gestures innate to the printmaking processes, explorations into mark-making, and the diverse techniques of layering and creating textures in my work.
Living and working in the small village of Kommetjie, which lies between the ocean and the mountains near Cape Town, offers wonderful inspiration for both abstract as well as more figurative ideas and images. For me, these images are integrally connected to our stewardship of the environment, and are most often derived from the immediate landscape and mapping of geographical connections, as well as the more elusive liminal, or “in-between” of these spaces.
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under these exhibition titles:
AT THE TABLE
My frequent walks taken amongst the local fynbos have both grounded me during the past year of uncertainty, and simultaneously inspired awe and wonder at the intricacies of the created natural realm.
The fynbos biome is integral to the mountains of the Western Cape, and flourishes with particular abundance on Table Mountain. My artworks allude to this ‘table’ of nature as a site of nourishment for me.
There is a growing body of research with an emphasis on the positive benefits of connecting with nature: the concept of Ecotherapy. Also recognised as nature therapy or green therapy, it highlights the healing and nourishing impact that we can gain from the natural environment.
Being mindful of the vulnerable yet still vast diversity of the creation in which we live, reminds me to celebrate the privilege of these wholesome and restorative walks as salve to the oppressive constraints of our current times.
My interpretation of this theme of ‘At The Table’ is expressed at my own studio table, through making images inspired by fynbos plants.
With the monoprints I attempt an expression of the lived experience by layering monotyped images with embossing; incorporating mapped images of geographical areas that I have walked, and printing individually hand-cut and etched fynbos plates.
The unhealthy implications of the viral invasion brought about a strangely liminal or in-between state.
Anxiety, uncertainty, vulnerability; suspension of activity and purpose; and a nationwide and even global economic…pause.
During lockdown I experienced the confinement of my urban space, and yearned for the healing and rejuvenation of being immersed in nature; while concurrently being mindful that nature itself had a chance to regenerate and heal during this window, directly due to the absence of human interference.
We were visited nightly by a mating pair of owls, daily by baboons in our garden and noticed the sounds of nature and the clarity of the sky.
While economic activity was inhibited and social engagement was denied, I looked out from my imposed delimitation, and photographed the negative spaces between rooftops, walls and windows, while imagining all of nature thriving in our absence.
These monoprints and etchings are an expression of this lived experience – using fynbos (our local flora) as a symbol of nature’s inherent capacity for regeneration, offset against architectural imagery (my studio walls) alluding to human interference.
Living so close to nature, I enjoy spending time on the mountains, walking the many paths amongst the fynbos vegetation which grows all around Kommetjie, and is a biome unique to the Western Cape. Observing the patterns and rhythms of the seasons and the elements, I became interested in how the Watsonia corm, a local indigenous flowering plant, rebirths prolifically after a fire, and how this can be a metaphor for the experience of regeneration or ‘new birth’.
Regeneration is a concept inherent to nature. Through plants, regeneration is evident in the earth at Spring.
Rebirth and regeneration are key themes in Greek mythology, are intrinsic to the Christian faith, and can be experienced through meditation and prayer.
The recent lockdown too, has allowed for more awareness of nature and its inherent ability to flourish and regenerate in the absence of humankind.
I chose to express this ‘visual metaphor’ of the Watsonia corm and the concept of Regeneration, through the process of monotypes. This printmaking technique involves generating an image on a surface (such as a glass, perspex or plastic plate) by layering paint or ink through painting, mark-making, erasing, adding and building up imagery: then covering the the plate with paper and printing either through applying pressure with a press, or by hand pressure. As it emerges on the paper, the image is revealed anew: alluding to the process itself as a ‘burial’ and rebirth.
The motivation for this body of work stems from experiences of ‘separation’ and ‘hope’ which are explored through the making process of these etchings. Liminal refers to an in-between space, a ‘neither here nor there’; a transition or ‘moving towards’. Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as “longing”, “pining”, “yearning”, or “craving”, or in a wider sense a type of “intensely missing”. C.S. Lewis describes Sehnsucht as “the stab and pang of acute longing…a homesickness for a place and a time we have not yet visited, that is beyond the edge of the imagination”. I like to interpret these concepts through the lens of hope.
Longing can be experienced on many levels, as has been acutely revealed through the Covid-19 lockdown.
Longing may pertain to safety, freedom, provision, security in economy, food, shelter; or perhaps a yearning for equality, unconditional love and being connected.
Through excavating, extending and altering the etching plate, the process of making this work allowed for engagement with the physical, spiritual and emotional spaces of yearning.
The original brass etching plate was created using the reference of five aerial perspectives, captured from Google Earth, of places that I have been, and which hold meaning for me. Central to the theme, is my longing for close family who live ‘on the other side of the world’, and for a world where suffering no longer exists.
After creating the initial imagery, I cut the plate into irregular geometric shapes, alluding to inhabited landscape. Using the linear mark-making techniques of hard ground etching, as well as the tonal variations formed by aquatint processes, I excavated new mappings: in an endeavor to locate myself – spiritually, if not physically – in those spaces.
The map-like forms evoke ‘alternate realities’ – relative to both physical and spiritual disconnections.
The imagined geographies of ‘Liminal Lands’ suggest ways of locating oneself in this intangible space of longing, not unlike a yearning for a promised paradise.
Just as there is no single English word which fully encapsulates the translation of ‘Sehnsucht’, this work grapples with multiple visual translations – in an endeavour to make sense of the intense and yet intangible essence of yearning
In striving to find a place of solace in this sense of yearning, the inherent therapy of artmaking has led me further into exploring a ‘salve’ to the sehnsucht. The Nexus monotypes allude to a consciousness of the ‘here’ as antithesis to, as well as alleviation from, the missing touch or connection. The origin of the word ‘Nexus’ is from the 17th century Latin word nectere, meaning “to bind or tie”.
These artworks were originated through the process of monotype , which involves creating an image with paint or ink onto a flat surface, then adding and reducing the medium in layered stages, ultimately yielding only a single print onto paper.
The monotypes evoke the now, present, here, being in the moment; and are by their very nature, unique and unrepeatable. In being mindful of the allure and blessing of what surrounds me now, this state of presence acts as a salve – and so binds the subconscious to what is absent.
Sourced in photographs taken on walks – these images zoom into areas where I physically find myself, in an attempt to be present, here, near.
It also occurs to me that the word ‘near’ is contained* in ‘yearn’
*contain (v.) – to have or hold (someone or something) within
The Ocean. A vast, continuous body of water covering over 70% of Earth’s surface. Life giving, yet threatened by human interference. Climate, CO2, oxygen, the water cycle, shipping routes, fisheries and sports – all these are integral to this watery world. On a personal level, the ocean has always been a part of my life’s journey…
…beginning in the Eastern Cape where we lived near the beach, learned to surf, and immersed ourselves in the salty rejuvenation of the waves. Beyond the horizon we imagined far off lands. As time passed, the next generation of children played on the sand, learnt to surf, explored the intriguing other-world under the sea, and acquired an appreciation for this precious and precarious resource. Today I find myself longing to travel over the watery expanse to those far off lands to visit our migrated ménage.
Living in Kommetjie, a village surrounded on 3 sides by the ocean, I walk the beach daily and observe the perpetual movement of the waves, tides and currents, the swell size and direction, the influence of the wind and the gifts that the ocean delivers onto the sand. The language of my family is salted with surf-speak, and there is nothing that makes me feel more alive than plunging into the cold Atlantic ocean for a swim.
These artworks are an expression of my connection to the ocean, just as the ebb and flow of the tides have always been an integral part of my passage
YIELD is a body of work which addresses the current plight of the honeybee and related environmental concerns. The artworks investigate the impact on, and the responsibilities of humankind within this theme.
Increasing lack of bee forage and the consequent stresses placed on these vital pollinators are major areas of concern. The word ‘YIELD’ has several meanings.
It refers firstly, to crops: up to 90% of food crops are pollinated by bees. Loss of sustainable crops would lead to a global food shortage.
YIELD implies a ‘bringing in’ or ’bringing forth’ – honeybees bring nectar into the hive for food, and bring forth information about the sites of pollen. Their sophisticated communication and navigational skills are being destroyed by crop pesticides.
YIELD also relates to notions of surrender, evoking the dying of millions of bees globally, due to negligence in human environmental mismanagement.
And YIELD invites a pause, an opportunity to contemplate ways in which we, as individuals, could become more environmentally proactive.
The ‘impression’ caused by the technique of printmaking suggests a metaphor for sociopolitical ‘impressions’ as is alluded to here with this environmental issue. The documentation of bee flight paths by harmonic radar exhibits a myriad of marks shown in dotted lines in the images, evoking a sense of confusion and loss; while the technique of blind embossing underpins what we choose not to see as well as the absence inherent in the potential for extinction.
This body of work seeks to highlight this significant environmental challenge. As individuals, our choices may seem to yield small results, but accumulatively could have a radical effect on the plight of the honeybee.
My informal role as an art educator in the community of Ocean View near Kommetjie, presented an opportunity for conversational interaction with young adults from the area. The artwork evolved through this engagement, attempting to decode local community slang and exploring the potential for reconnection which is so often disrupted through misinterpretation.
DIALOGUING DIALECT investigates the notions of ‘self and other’* within the context of language. Contemporary multicultural South Africa reveals an wonderfully inherent sense of connection and yet also so much disconnection. This is often intensified by misunderstandings due to the diversity of spoken languages and dialects.
The installation Relate/Translate references dialogue and language. In a collaboration with two young men from the Ocean View community, we shared a particular language exchange: they taught me some of their slang (a verbal language), and I taught them how to do woodcuts (a visual language).
Incorporating an art-form emblematic of their neighbourhood, we then designed hybridized graffiti-style letters, carving these into various wooden squares. After relief printing and collaging the prints into a selection of words from this slang or dialect, we assembled the squares into cubes, symbolizing the well-known alphabet block of my own youth, used by children globally to learn to read.
With traces of luminous spray-paint added to the alphabet blocks, alluding to youth culture and the territory or site of this slang, the blocks were then arranged with a 2-dimensional speech bubble into a dynamic installation.
The labour-intensive mark-making required for cutting imagery on these wooden blocks suggests my struggle (as ‘other’) to decode the vernacular language. In an endeavour to make the unintelligible accessible, the exhibition set up a visual dialogue is between viewer and artwork using the BLOCK as a metaphor.
*The concept of a centre/periphery or self/other relationship is understood in both a psychological and philosophical sense and defines exclusion of “Others” within societies. Working from the peripheral perspective of my own experience, I explore a relational translation or subversion in the language context of the Ocean View community.
In the R.E.M.[INI]SENSE series I investigate transitional spaces and memories of childhood homes and spaces, and relate these to the passage of life as a woman. The title is a play on the word ‘reminiscence’ and also references the R.E.M. dream state.
The liminal dream state that I work with refers to a transition, or rite of passage. Through the process of etching, I find myself excavating memory and infusing this with the transitions experienced in a woman’s passage through time. The slow process of printmaking and the care and attention to detail embraced in its progression, relates to my various roles as woman – daughter, mother, friend, partner, professional, mentor. The qualities of multiplicity in printmaking also relate to the repetitive acts of sleeping and dreaming and the passing of time. The work is quite ethereal and has feminine qualities which evoke personal interpretation.
These conceptual artworks address the separating process between two people in a relationship: the tensions inherent in this separation: pulling apart from each other, yet still inextricably joined by the bond between them.
The departure point: my position as parent releasing a son into young adulthood.
All the nurturing through childhood and teenage years now reaches a new stage where stretching of boundaries occurs, conflicting perspectives and differences of opinion are prevalent, and the transition of (who has) control is a major issue.
The two elements of my work which are key are
- Rubber Stamp
Using the materiality of rubber, I explored how its properties of elasticity and durability could reflect the characteristics of a relationship between two people. The stretching of the rubber refers to the tension and miscommunication in relationships (letting go/disconnection/detachment – also referencing divorce, disagreement, disavowal).
The rubber stamp is an image which is evocative of approval, consent, authorisation. These concepts are pertinent to the transfer of control – from parent to now young adult.
The printed marks on the surface of the rubber signify these rubber stamps and what they evoke.
The forms on each end of “Balance of Tension” are in the shape of the rubber stamp yet they also allude to the two people in the relationship. The see-saw is both a reference to childhood memories, as well as to the balance of tension which is inherent to the artwork.
The nails suggest my attempts at ‘nailing down’ – with discipline, rules etc – while for the young adult, they hint at attempts to make his own mark on the world. The nails also refer to the pain of letting go and the conflict inherent in this course of restrain/release.
Other processes such as weaving, binding and stitching are all evocative of women’s/mother’s domestic activities as well as the interweaving and intimacy inherent in a close relationship.
The digital prints are taken from monoprints using elements and imagery from the sculptures and making reference to the same content.