• Lesley Ireland Mathew

    Lesley Ireland Mathew
    • Artist Statement
      • My work deals with the triangular relationship between Man, God and Nature. As the spirit of God unites with the soul of man, the conscience is awakened, which sets off a series of questions about the consequences of our actions. A vanitas theme is often present in my work, where attachment to material objects prevents us from attaining ulitmate peace. My paintings resemble a conjured tabloid of contemporary and timeless objects, much like the constructed reality of a museum display.
    • Biography

      • I was born in KwazuluNatal on the 16th January 1963. I matriculated from Pietermaritzburg Girls' High in 1980, and attended the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, to study art and teaching. I graduated in 1985 with a BA Fine Art degree and a Higher Diploma in Education.

        I taught matric art in several government schools, before settling down to teach in an independent (IEB) school known as Grantleigh College, for 16 years. In 2013 I made the decision to become a full-time artist and now paint for 7 hours a day.

        I have exhibited with Grace Kotze in her Loading Bay Gallery in Durban and I have taken part in the KZNSA members' exhibition. I entered the 2017 Sanlam Portrait Competition and achieved a place in the top 100.


        Solo show at the Rust en Vrede Gallery in September 2018.
    • Interview
      • Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
        I am struggling to find a current trend to inspire me because I enjoy realism with meaning, and there is not much of that around at the moment in South Africa. I admire Janet Solomon as she incorporates realism into her chaotic paintings, and deals with the impact of human behaviour on the environment.

        Which South African deceased artist do you most admire and why?

        I admire Helmut Starcke for his social and political commentry, delivered to us in a cloak of perfectly executed realism.

        If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

        It would be a painting by Dee Donaldson entitled NOCTURN. It depicts the deposition of Christ, being photographed by the paparatzzi. It’s about human consumerism and greed in the face of ultimate sacrifice.

        How did you get started? Did you always want to be an artist?
        When I was very young child I declared that I wanted to be an artist. I excelled at school art and went on to obtain a BA Fine Art degree. I had to teach matric art to make a living, but I am finally free to pursue my lifelong dream, which is to paint full-time.

        What are some of the key themes you explore in your work?
        Still-life has always been my favorite, but an enduring theme has been man’s relationship with God and nature.

        What inspired your latest body of work?

        I live on a farm in a beautiful part of the country; Northern Kwazulu Natal, otherwise known as Mtunzini (the place of shade), in the heart of Zululand. Surrounded by indigenous forest, the ocean and farmlands, I am currently depicting the fruits, fauna and flora of my environment.

        Tell us more about your creative process.
        I use my cellphone camera to capture instant moments of interest, often arriving home with hundreds of images. I grid-up my images in order help draw them realistically, then paint from my tablet to ensure accuracy. Occasionally I draw from life, which I believe is essential to remaining grounded and humbled as an artist.

        What drives you as an artist?

        My drive to create is constant and overpowering, regardless of outcome. I have even tried to suppress it or ignore it but I can’t. I choose to believe it comes from God, who made me fearfully and wonderously.

        Do you have a favourite or most meaningful work?
        Yes, I painted a desolate scene from the Richtersveld and called it GETHSEMANE. It represents a time in my life when I felt rejected and abandoned. My daughter Terri won’t part with it.

        What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?

        I entered the Sanlam Portrait award in 2017 and made the top 100. It meant the world to me.

        What are your aspirations for the future?
        To spend the rest of my life painting and to move people with my art; whether it be with a message or meaning, or just sheer delight and enjoyment.