Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
As someone who is very adamant about the upkeep of drawing and painting, I always find it encouraging coming across artists who are working in, truly engaging with, and seriously pursuing these more traditional mediums (despite contemporary art trends). Some of the artists whose work I find exciting at present include Judith Mason, Virginia McKenny, Deborah Poynton, Jake Aikman, Elizabeth Gunter & Peter van Straten.
Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
My pick would have to be amongst the old greats of South African landscape art. In singling out one, I choose Thomas Bowler for his exceptional landscape sketches and paintings, as well as for the contribution he made to the genre as a teacher and artist.
Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
There are two that come to mind. The first is an exhibition by Judith Mason entitled A Prospect of Icons. I visited the exhibition in high school with my painting class and at the time it made me extremely excited about painting. I found her visual style and technique genuinely captivating and fascinating, which was very encouraging to me as a young art student. The second is a fairly recent exhibition by Deborah Poynton entitled Pictures, for the sublimity of her large paintings, as well as for the powerful and critical manner with which she deals with concepts such as landscape, the picturesque and the sublime.
Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
From many things that I cannot and do not want to put my finger on, but those that I can name include overwhelming natural phenomena, particularly mountains, creation and the ultimate Creator – that which is terrifying and powerfully beautiful at the same time. Such music is also a great aid.
Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
Other than usually taking some time to put on music and deciding on an image to work with, my habits before I start working mostly involve ordering things in my studio space that I would need to work with, such as brushes, ink etc. Since I like to draw attention to the working process, I include certain aesthetic elements in the drawing that serve to remind one that it went through a process and took time and effort. For example, my drawing paper also acts as a sort of palette - after dunking my brush in the ink or ink water, I dab it a few times on the paper and attempt to use this mark to build the drawing, before starting with line-work. In most drawings I also position the ink water bowl near the bottom left of my drawing and wipe my ink water filled brush on the edge of the bowl so that it forms a similar ink splash in many of my drawings. Additionally, I’ve formed a habit of jotting down the time I start and stop working near the top left of the page.
What do you like most about being an artist?
Creating.Being immersed in an art-making process – the tactility of it and the sensory qualities involved.
Being able to experiment and play around with materials and mediums, creating a mess that I find visually interesting.The privilege of communicating and sharing visually.Celebrating a successful end product. I have a great respect for artistic thinking and expression in many forms so just feeling like I am in some way connected to that and a part of the arts is a massive encouragement.
How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?
If there is work to be done I need to work no matter how I am feeling. My work is largely about process and the time and labour involved in art making so I try to push through and work tirelessly. Music and coffee or tea can be quite helpful. But more importantly, since I intend to work under the Lordship of Christ seeking to honour him in my work, prayer also forms a big part of my process - so it’s a great blessing to be able to turn to God, share with him and ask for help and guidance when I’m struggling.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
Completing my Fine Arts degree with distinction.
Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
Yes, I might not exactly know how but I believe it starts with sincerely working with and through things that you feel strongly about, hoping that it might find a connection somewhere. I feel that through playing off images and concepts available in the art world and communicating their way of seeing and thinking, every artist has the opportunity to grow the great conversation that is art, and I would love to, in my own humble way, be part of the conversation. There are very definite things that I attempt to communicate through my work such as, amongst others, glorifying mountains and trying to shift focus slightly from the end product to the actual realities of the working process and the truth involved there. However, the prospect of even one person taking something from your work that you never intended is also a great motivation. On a further note, being a young artist as well as a strong Christian, I often feel that the two are misconstrued as opposites, since art has a rebellious association and Christianity a conservative one. Being passionate about both I hope to contribute to breaking that divide. I always find it very encouraging to come across people who are both serious artists as well as serious Christians and therefore I have a great desire to encourage in the same way.
What are your plans for the coming year?
To be genuinely active as an artist – in producing and on social media, to really invest in networking my work, and to make use of every opportunity to grow as an artist. One such opportunity is a 40 Stones in the Wall group exhibition that I’m making a new piece for, happening on the 5th of April in Cape Town. I also started a new project this year entitled “A Mountain A Day” – In an effort to integrate and communicate more, for at least 4 days in the week I post a picture that I’ve taken of a mountain in the morning, along with a piece of Scripture that I read that day, and then I’ll do a small drawing working from that picture and share it on social media at the end of the day. It’s a means of constantly communicating; constantly having fresh, more affordable work for sale and very importantly, it is a means of developing a presence on social media. Lastly, I’ve had a new series in the works for a while that stems from my time spent in South Korea, which will hopefully make an appearance soon.