There is No Excellent Beauty That Hath Not Some Strangeness in The Proportion – Francis Bacon
Silk Screen Print // 60 x 80 cm // 2019
In the beginning of 2019 I was invited by the South African curatorship, “The Bland and Boring (managing expectations)” to participate in their group show, “Arty Bollocks”. Each participant was given a random artist statement from the website www.artybollocks.com. Using this statement as our brief, we were challenged to create an artwork that both represented the brief and our existing body of work.
My randomly generated artist statement:
“My work explores the relationship between Pre-Raphaelite tenets and UFO sightings. With influences as diverse as Rousseau and Francis Bacon, new combinations are synthesised from both mundane and transcendant layers. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the ephemeral nature of the moment. What starts out as triumph soon becomes corrupted into a manifesto of defeat, leaving only a sense of nihilism and the dawn of a new reality. As spacial replicas become distorted through emergent and repetitive practice, the viewer is left with a testament to the possibilities of a new era.”
Woodcut // 30,5 x 21 cm // 2019
Fascinated and inspired by Dutch botanical paintings because of my husband’s Dutch heritage, this artwork formed part of a body of work where I intentionally created chaotic, busy, over-designed, Dutch botanical-inspired settings in which to place my subjects (birds).
In Utopia, I have used the house sparrow (commonly known as a mossie in South Africa) as the subject hidden in the flower arrangement.
During the Anglo-Boer war in South Africa (1899-1902), the English were struggling to defeat the Boers, who had adopted guerrilla warfare tactics. One effective way to demoralise the Boers was for the English to round up all the women and children living on farms, put them into concentration camps, and then burn the farms to the ground. The conditions in the concentration camps were dismal and thousands of women and children died, having suffered greatly in these camps.
After the war, then Prime Minister, General Jan Smuts used the emblem of the sparrow on the lowest coin (1 cent) to thank God that the Boers (South Africans) survived, using Matthew 10: 29 – 31 to reference how important the survival of the Boere (South Africans) was to God:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Reduction Linocut // 10 x 10 cm // 2019
The theory of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” imagines that in order to prevent extinction, mammals evolved from tiny, water-living creatures to larger, land-living creatures. Birds are believed by some evolutionists to have come about by dinosaurs making themselves smaller. It is also widely believed that dinosaurs had feathers as their outer coverage.
The hadeda, depicted in Together, is a large, loud bird that visually has a likeness to its possible ancestor, the dinosaur. Choosing to “downsize”, find protection in the grasslands, and keep safe in numbers, Together pays homage to the survival spirit of birds.
Ford in Her Studio
Oil painting and Silk Screen Print // 50 x 40 cm // 2019
In this work I captured a candid moment of Ford in her studio, laboriously creating and playing, with her ever-present, standoffish muse, Moke (the ginger cat). I wanted to express the essence of Carmen Ford – fellow co-founder of the all-female printmaking collective, The Printing Girls in South Africa (est. 2016), my colleague, and contemporary artist.
While Ford’s own creative practice is about power, symbolised in her works through the motif of fighter jets and helicopters, in my work, I have turned these airplanes inward to face Ford herself.
This work was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s theory of ideas in her book Big Magic (2016). In my own exploration of Gilbert’s notion that ideas are their own entities travelling through space and time, trying to find a willing creative soul to take the ideas and turn them into something tangible, I have used Ford as the creative soul that these ideas of power and politics are targeting. Through this painting I am trying to demonstrate the moment in which an artist is ‘hit’ by inspiration. The red screen-printed airplanes are the ideas within Ford’s grasp, which she will turn into new works of art in her studio, while Moke keeps her company.
Ain’t Nothing but a Gold Digga
Lithograph, gold leaf and Chine Collé // 50 x 70 cm // 2018
Johannesburg is famous for is history of mining and, owing to its gold resources, is nicknamed Egoli (City of Gold). Working with master printer Leshoka Joe Legote in his lithography studio, LL Editions, I created a body of work about the mine dumps in Johannesburg South.
Throughout Johannesburg South, gold mine dumps are being re-mined as new mining technology is able to find smaller particles of gold within these man-made mountains. Making their daytime home on these mine dumps are thousands of Sacred Ibis. Every day, as thousands of Johannesburg residents make their way through rush-hour traffic to their homes, huge flocks of these Sacred Ibis can be seen up above, making their way from the mine dumps to the rural outskirts of Joburg.
Linocut // 20 x 20 cm // 2019
Man has always been fascinated with birds, given their ability to fly, soar, and glide effortlessly through the air. Of all of the most revered birds, the peregrine was once the most loved bird of prey. Trained by doting owners, peregrines were used in sport to hunt smaller prey. Man relied on the flight and power of these birds for hunting, entertainment, and in many cases, a beautiful companionship between man and animal.
With the invention of gunpowder and shotguns, the peregrine was not only replaced in hunting sports by the gun, but it also became the target. Peregrines have now had to escape to remote, hidden countrysides in order to preserve their species from extinction. In Peregrine, I attempted to hide the eagle subject within the repetitive patterns of the environment; it is hidden and safe. The hidden is safe. The hidden is preserved.
Forget Me Not i
Screen Print on Fabriano and Drafting Film // 25 x 25 cm // 2019
Created for a group show with the ‘Dead Bunny Society’ art collective, this work incorporates two themes from my current body of work: the use of repetitive botanical patterns in order to mask and hide the subject, and house sparrows, which I regularly use to represent the women of South Africa. The image is distorted subtly by creating a double print by offsetting a piece of drafting film over the print on paper. The consequent difficulty in reading the image visually is deliberate, intended to force the viewer to look closely in engaging with the subject matter.
Forget me not represents the lineage of creative women whose work has been sidelined for so many years. Her time has come now – it is spotlighted. This is achieved by the use of the round, yellow print on the drafting film.
Working as one of the founders of The Printing Girls (est. 2016), it is my personal aspiration to create more opportunities for female artists, acknowledge the female talents we have in our country, work to create gender equality within the South African art world, and encourage female creatives to pursue their art practice with conviction, courage and confidence – earning them their rightful position in the contemporary history of art in South Africa.
Madonna and Chicks
Screen Print // 20 x 20 cm // 2019
This is the first artwork created through the use of the Generative Automated Network (GAN) software I will be working with during my Masters study (Generative Automated Network – Artificial Intelligence). The image generated by the GAN was a low-res, pixelated, un-defined shape, with three smaller shapes within (See Fig. 1).
I was immediately drawn to these three smaller shapes and their triangular composition, which instantly reminded me of the structured compositions in da Vinci’s work, The Virgin on the Rocks . Using this depiction of Madonna and Child accompanied by John as my reference point, I integrated my own typical subject matter and colour palette into the scene. I referenced the undefined shape of the GAN image directly in my artwork to define the horizon line in the landscape. Since my creative practice is inherently inspired on birds, I wanted to use the ibis as the subject of this work. Often seen often as a dirty scavenger, I felt that this would create an unease in the viewer when placed in the position of sacred deity – where the iconic religious figures (Mary, Jesus and John) are replaced by ibises.
The image on the left is the random GAN generated image used for the inspiration of this artwork. In the right image, the red triangle shows the triangular composition which led to the placement of the three figures in the work, while the yellow shows the line of the landscape used in the work.
Etching and Screen Print // 20 x 20 cm // 2019
As is characteristic of much of my work, in Plumbago Pigeon, I make use of repetitive botanical patterns to hide my avian subject. In this work, a pigeon is hidden within a Plumbago Plant.
Infamously disliked across the world, the pigeon is considered a pest, a carrier of diseases, and the archetypal “birdbrain”. Thought until as recently as the last 50 years to have one of the lowest intelligences of all living creatures because of the size of their brains, birds have been greatly underestimated.
The rock pigeon is the common ancestor of all species of pigeons and doves. With each threat to the survival of its species, it was able to adjust, acclimatise, adapt, and evolve to its environment. One of the most remarkable aspects of the pigeon is their ability to use the earth’s magnetic field for navigation by using their nostril cere (the white part of the pigeon’s beak) as a compass.
Etching // 20 x 20 cm // 2019
Like in Peregrine, Utopia, Forget Me Not, and Plumbago Pigeon, in Cluck I once again make use of the motif of the hidden avian figure – masking, in this case, a rooster, among repetitive botanical patterns