• Elsie Cloete

    Elsie Cloete
    • Artist Statement
      • After I was psychically assaulted, I developed severe depression. While in therapy I discovered Linzhorn’s collection of over 5000 pieces of Psychiatric Art. I engaged with his readings as an attempt to understand the patients’ experiences with mental illness through my own experience and was instantly inspired.
        I interview people who have been clinically diagnosed with depression, talk about their writings, drawings and episodes. I print off of deteriorated objects – from linoleum to polystyrene – and rework the prints with ink. To me, the prints become like maps which I try to make sense of through drawing. They are filled with glimpses of past experiences and are metaphors for the destructive nature of depression.
        I aim to raise awareness of depression with my art and its hashtag, #selfmedicators, through improving visibility of the illness.
    • Biography
      • Elsie Cloete is currently studying at the University of Pretoria. She is working towards being accepted to complete a master’s degree clinical psychotherapy after completing her degree in 2018.
        Cloete has exhibited with Trent Gallery, Art Lover’s 1932 and hosts pop-up shows monthly. She has collaborated with The Luxe Box and will open her first solo exhibition on 1 February 2018.
        Cloete developed a unique methodology as she uses her pieces to spread awareness about the multifaceted nature of depression, by working directly with people who have been diagnosed with the illness and psychologists.
    • Interview
      • Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        I love that more artists are reaching out and working directly with the community – the work becomes more interactive. It is something I am doing too as I interview and collect inspiration from people who suffer from depression.
        If you don’t know of them, go look at Io Makandal, Carly Whitaker, Diana Hyslop and Sophia van Wyk. I am also obsessed with Francke Gretchen Crots’ ceramic work after seeing it at the Sasol New Signatures 2017 exhibition – captivating!

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?
        Walter Battiss for sure – he went through so many phases in his artworks, which I love to explore. And who doesn’t love the concept of Fook Island.

        Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
        This question makes me feel kind of self-absorbed (haha), but it is a group exhibition entitled ‘Comic.’ I rounded up some of my talented peers and transformed a hipster pizza parlor into a fine art exhibition. It changed my life – so many people showed up that I honestly can’t even estimate how many.
        The viewers weren’t necessarily educated in art, but a lot of them asked the artists about the artworks. It was amazing to see how many people are interested in collecting fine art – I decided then to make an effort to make my pieces assessable and connect with others through making my Instagram account my portfolio.
        Where do you get your inspiration for your work?
        I feel very passionately about patients with depression, as I myself have had episodes of the illness. The subjects I work with are honestly incredible – they have received me so well and their stories inspire me endlessly. They have conquered the worst of times.

        Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
        Very specific and some horrible ones… I forget to eat, for instance. I have to have everything around me organized in grids with my inks on my left (otherwise I just can’t concentrate). I also have to work for hours at a time – no short sessions for me. And NO SILENCE. Ever.

        What do you like most about being an artist?
        The subjects and psychologists I work with. I’m not the biggest extrovert on the planet, but these people are welcoming and easy to work alongside with!

        How do you handle bad days when you experience artist's block?

        I am a big advocate for “just working through it.” Just sit and draw! If you reeeally can’t think of anything to make, practice your drawings skills by consciously drawing from the Masters’ works.
        It is good to occasionally just take a step back and have a weekend marathon of T.V. series though… Which is my go-to cure (lame I know).

        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
        My first solo exhibition opens on 1 February 2018 – it is something I’ve dreamed of forever and it is finally happening.

        Do you feel that you want to make a difference to the world or in people's lives? If yes, how?
        That’s what my work is all about: hearing people out whose voices have been diminished by depression and making art that may help others understand their experiences or have them realize that they not alone in life.
        I’m hoping to jumpstart a hashtag, #selfmedicators, in 2018. I am all about self-care and self-love. Social activism style.

        What are your plans for the coming year?
        I want to show my work in as many different places as possible in order to reach as many people as I can. I am creating 45 artworks to be featured with The Luxe Box’s launch in January 2018, having a solo show, group shows and completing my BA (Hons) in Fine Art – it is going to be fantastic.