• Bernice Stott

    Bernice Stott
    • Artist Statement
      • The female body has been a consistent interest of mine. Anthony Easthope’s says “the question of gender itself pervades all areas of critical and cultural debate”. The 1970’s saw a burgeoning of artists focusing on ways in which the female body is presented, particularly focusing on female objectification; where a woman is viewed as an object whilst a man is the viewing subject. In the history of painting this dominant view came to be identified and named the ‘male gaze’ in the 1970’s. Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975) attempted to provide a possible range of resistances to the “male gaze”. In this body of work I am hoping to show a resistant view of the female body. The reverse side is more ethereal and mysterious than the front view, presuming the front view to be explicit. It is a resistant view in that the sensuousness of the body is subtle and the subject seems to have more ownership of how she wishes to be viewed.

        However the double sided representation gives the choice of viewing back to viewers, regardless of their gender.
    • Biography

        Selected exhibitions:

        KZNSA “Character”. Annual Members Exhibition.
        artSPACE, Durban. “Affordable Art”. Group Exhibition.
        KZNSA “Invisible”. Annual Members Exhibition.
        artSPACE, Durban. “13th Annual Affordable Art”.
        artSPACE, Durban. “Durban – Yesterday, Now and Tomorrow” Inspiration VI - Group Exhibition.
        Lizamore and Associates. “The Spiritual in the Material”. Group exhibition.
        artSPACE, Durban. “Anima-Animus” Group Exhibition

        artSPACE, Durban. “Affordable Art”. Group Exhibition.
        artSPACE, Durban. “Liquid Light: Forms Drawn From Water”. Solo Exhibition.
        Gallery on Leviseur, Bloemfontein. “Litmus Skin” In association with Art Source South Africa.

        artSPACE, Durban. “Litmus Skin”. Solo Exhibition.
        ABSA KKNK, Oudtshoorn. “Tom Waits for No Man” Group exhibition.
        University of Johannesburg Gallery.  “Tom Waits for No Man” Group exhibition.
        Grande Provenance Gallery, Franschoek. “Tom Waits for No Man” Group exhibition.
        Johannes Stegmann Gallery, Bloemfontein. “Tom Waits for No Man” Group exhibition.

        art SPACE Durban. “Inpiration 3” Group Exhibition.

        The Quays On Timeball, Durban.  “Every One Counts”. Group Exhibition. 
        The Foundling Museum, London.  “One Voice”. Group Exhibition.
        Durban Art Gallery. “Red Eye Jomba: Body Politic”.  Group Exhibition. 

        Iziko Good Hope Gallery, Cape Town. “Not Alone, an International Project of Make Art Stop AIDS.” Group Exhibition.
        artSPACE Berlin: “Alpoa (A Little Piece Of Africa) Group Exhibition.”  

        Durban Art Gallery Group Exhibition: “Expressions, an exhibition of recent acquisitions.”

        KZNSA Group Exhibition: “Marks on Paper”.
        Constitution Hill Women’s Jail Solo Exhibition: “She-Flesh-Spirit”.
        Albany Museum Grahamstown Festival Group Exhibition: “Positive 2007”.

        artSPACE Durban. Master’s Solo Exhibition: “She-Flesh-Spirit”.
        KwaZulu-Natal Society of the Arts Group Exhibition: Centenary”.

        Natal Society of the Arts Group Exhibition: “Triptych.”

        ArtSpace Durban Group Photography Exhibition: “Hypo”.    
        Artscene Cafe Solo Exhibition: “Skye”.

        Natal Society of the Arts Solo Exhibition: “The Colours that come back to you from the world”.

        1995-2000 Natal Society of the Arts. Pascale Chandler Group Exhibitions.

    • Interview
      • What new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        The Zeitz MOCCA’s emphasis on young African artists’ work is both exciting and daunting in its trendsetting, it shows the power of the museum to dictate the direction of art. Mohau Modisakeng has an ability to identify the universal histories of slavery yet simultaneously reshapes a black South African-ness. Two other South African artists I find inspiring are Wilma Cruise and Heike Allerton-Davies. Cruise has a strange interface between humans and animals, both in her sculptures and drawings she depicts muteness. There is an angst that discourses through the bodies. Allerton–Davies inspires me because she has a keen psychological insight into her portrait subjects and draws attention to the “blessing and curse of being female.”

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
        Irma Stern. I enjoy her riotous colour, her unusual treatment of her subject matter. She was a passionate maker of art, seen in her energetic brushwork and composition, her work is always visually stimulating. She persisted at a time (1894-1966) when it was difficult for a woman artist in South Africa.

        Which exhibition that you have visited, made the greatest impact on you and why?
        In 2008 I visited Cildo Meireles’ exhibition at the Tate Modern. Known as a conceptual, installation artist and sculptor, his labyrinth installation work titled Through was mesmerizing. Walking through the labyrinth over eight tons of broken glass underfoot, most of the walls of the maze were transparent. Traversing the maze was thwarted by impediments such as fences, blinds, railings and aquariums. Even the real fish in the aquarium were transparent. The eye could see through the glass/transparent materials but the body could not pass through easily. It was both psychologically tense and intriguing.

        Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
        The human body particularly the arabesque shapes of the female body. Ecological and social issues ignite my thinking. My own body feels most buoyant in water. The love of water and the global issue of water being the blue gold of the future inspired my exhibition Liquid Light.
        Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about? 

        The ritual I use is a centring sequence of deep breaths. I then visualise the work (name it), also visualising a good outcome. Writing affirmations for the work helps me to trust my resources.

        What do you like most about being an artist?

        I feel purposeful, healthy, rejuvenated, integrated and hopeful when I am maximizing my gifts of creativity.

        How do you handle bad days when you are experiencing artist’s block?  

        “It is most often anxiety that causes would be creators to choose one life over another”- Julia Cameron. I acknowledge the anxiety/fear. I use my own artist’s mantra and repeat it with calm breathing. Knowing I have to show up and get to work, I remind myself that the best ideas come out of the process itself. Strindberg said he could not wait for inspiration, he had to work ahead of it.

        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
        My solo sculpture exhibition titled Liquid Light: Forms drawn from water in 2014 because sculpture was not my major at art school. Personally, I overcame the obstacle of being a woman not socialized in the handling of tools or machinery, using them remains tough work for me. Water was the subject of the exhibition and without physically using any water I struggled to capture liquidity in solid three dimensional form. It was a very large exhibition with enormous effort over a long period.

        Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people’s lives? If yes, how?
        I am an Anglican priest and artist, and I have had the opportunity to be with people at the major thresholds of their lives; birth, death and marriages and I know I have made a difference. Teaching and learning is a joy, I have taught children, tertiary and university students and have created adult education classes. When I connect meaningfully and co-construct with other people, I make a difference in their creative growth and mine. I feel enthralled, valued and electric.

        What are your plans for the coming year?
        I will have an exhibition of drawings. The other plan is to paint abstracted landscapes from the rubble of photographs and random sketches. Images are likely to choose the work and jump out at me. Art is an alloy so I want to explore, experiment, play, risk and broaden the possibilities.