Janet Botes

Vaal University of Technology
B. Tech Graphic Design (Cum Laude) 
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My art is predominantly inspired by nature. This love is expressed as landscapes, and as depictions of objects and living creatures found in the landscape - sometimes representational, while other times abstract or conceptual. I enjoy working in a variety of different techniques, sizes and mediums - using different approaches to achieve textures, forms and compositions that expresses some part of essence of the natural landscape that I experience or find myself in.

Some disciplines that I employ in my work include Land Art, Drawing, Mixed Media Painting, Photography, Assemblage, and Digital Art or New Media. Texture often plays an important role, not only in paintings or sculptural work, but also in my digital work. The rough surface of a rock and the smooth curve of a shell; and how these tactile differences feel emotionally, intrigues me.

Each artwork excites me, as the unpredictability of some materials are integral to my process - I work very intuitively, allowing an artwork to take shape as it needs to. 'Mistakes' are often reworked and transformed into something unplanned or unexpected. Nothing gets wasted. My art is seated in a deep belief that we need to live in harmony with our earth, creating sustainable systems and methods of living and creating - this includes taking responsibility for the waste created from the creation of my art.

Attaining a BTech in Graphic Design from the Vaal University of Technology (cum laude) in 2006, Janet has been able to merge design, photography and fine art techniques in her work in pursuit of an individual or unique style. She has facilitated as well as attended several workshops as part of her work. Some of the workshops attended include an introductory workshop in Art Therapy, a concept development workshop by Kai Lossgott, and a Professional Arts Practice workshop presented by Art Source and Art Space Gallery. 

Janet gets wildly inspired by walks in nature, deep discussions with friends and work by other artists. Some of the artists whose work inspire her most are Strijdom van der Merwe, Willem Boshoff, Lien Botha, Berni Searle, Ian Marley, Marina Abramovic, Roni Horn, Di Smith, Stefanie Schoeman and Walter Battiss. 

Since 2013 Janet has been involved with Site_Specific Land Art Events, and as part of this she participated as an invited artist in the 2013 International Land Art Biennale in Plettenberg Bay. She has created an artwork for one of the bus stations for Cape Town City's MyCiti BRT service, and in 2012 curated and organized the (eco)nversations Green Art exhibition as part of the the Green Expo, held at the CTICC. 

Her debut solo exhibition "Wild & Still: expressions of the landscape" will show from 5-30 June 2014 at the StateoftheART gallery space in Cape Town. An introduction by Strijdom van der Merwe and a performance art piece by the artist will open the exhibition on 5 June from 6pm.

Selected  Exhibitions:

2014 | Solo exhibition WILD & STILL at StateoftheART, Cape Town.

2013 | Pieces & Puzzles: Compositions of human expression inspired by nature, curated by Stefanie Schoeman. Lovell Gallery, Cape Town.

2013 | Encounters Annual Wildlife exhibition at the Cape Gallery, Cape Town.

2013 | Hiernamaals | Hereafter at Slee Gallery, Stellenbosch, during Woordfees 2013.

2012 | Walk This Earth Alone at Gallery @ Grande Provence, Franschhoek.

2012 | HumanEarth III: First Material group exhibition, US Gallery, Stellenbosch.

2011 | Scrapes & Scapes. Bodutu Gallery, Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark.

2010 | Dare to Dream in silent moments at Wessel Snyman Creative, Cape Town.

2009 | Sangisa Sangisa Group Exhibition & performance art VANSA Spin Space, Cape Town.

2008 | Unified: Unpretty, Unclean, Underneath, Unnatural Eat Your Words Artspace, Vereeniging.

2008 | Between the lines at Gallery at Duncan Yard, Hatfield, Pretoria. 


What is your favourite film of all time?!
Into the Wild, 2007

What music are you currently listening to and why?

VAST, the music is incredible, it sets me such an ideal mood for doing anything - whether it be creating art, going to a meeting, doing yoga, or catching up with a friend.

Which living artists do you most admire and why?
Strijdom van der Merwe and Andy Goldworthy for their Land Art, in which they work extensively in landscapes and use natural materials to create transient work. I also admire Berni Searle, Lien Botha, Christiaan Diedericks, Willem Boshoff and Wim Botha - all for the visual intricacies in their work as well as their interaction and apt interpretation of their mediums and concepts, whether it be performative (Searle), photographic (Lien Botha), drawing-based (Diedericks), language-focused (Boshoff) or responding to religious practices (Wim Botha).
Which deceased artist do you most admire and why?
Joseph Buyes for his ground-breaking avant garde work which relied on interaction and public participation. Also Walter Battiss for his incredible graphic artworks and Fook Island

Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
I've seen a lot of great exhibitions, but one that stays with me is Wessel Snyman's exhibition "The Birds" at the AVA in 2009 has had a great impact on me. Firstly, because I was so impressed by his installation of folded bank-slip birds, I wrote a review of his art. This made him approach me to write a review about his following exhibition, and eventually I worked in his gallery for a month while he went to Australia!

What is the question you get asked most frequently about your work and how do you answer it?
I am often asked what medium I use and prefer. Because I work in such a variety of media and techniques, I mention some of the techniques I use, and when the person shows interest in a specific medium, we continue the conversation with a focus on that particular medium.

What/ who inspired you to be an artist?
I was lucky to have great art teachers at school, Lientjie Barnard and Thea Luus, who made Art History interesting and inspiring. They exposed me to the work of European, American as well as South African artists that inspired me and fed my passion for art that started from a very early age. But without the amazing support and encouragement that I have always received from my parents, I would not be who and where I am now.

Can you tell us about where you make your art and what if any, the significance of this location has?

I love working in the landscape, whether I'm drawing/painting my immediate surroundings or working with the actual materials and objects in the landscape. There is a sense of closeness, reality and also peace when working in nature. That closeness to the creation, and involvement in the process often extends to my work in the studio, as I aim to work with natural materials as much as possible.

What do you like most about being an artist?
The license to be 'weird' and the flexibility of my work time.

What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Working alongside and meeting artists such as Kornelia Konrads, Waltern Oltmann, Gordon Froud, and Strijdom van der Merwe during the 2013 Land Art Biennale. It was exciting and daunting and amazing and energizing, all at the same time.
What are your plans for the coming year?

Well, the most important plan is my first solo exhibition, “Wild & Still”, that opens on 5 June at the www.StateoftheART at 61 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town. Other than that I am planning to travel to the Karoo and Northern Cape this year, as well as do more Land Art in the Helderberg area of the Western Cape, South Africa. 

Can You Be Still?

This video and the performance piece was created as part of the artist's debut solo exhibition "Wild & Still" held in our gallery in Cape Town.

Ways Of Working

A video showing just some of Janet's working methods and techniques, which includes mixed media work and working with natural materials like sand.

Site_Specific: Flow

Created as part of Janet's work for 2013 Site_Specific International Land Art Biennale held in Plettenberg Bay