Q&A with Gallery Award Finalist: JO ROETS

We asked the Ten Gallery Award Finalists some questions to help you get to know them as we prepare for the special Group Exhibition at StateoftheART’s Cape Town gallery from 06 – 22nd September 2018 and the final round of judging. The winner will be awarded a R10 000 cash prize and a solo exhibition with the gallery in 2019.

See more about the Gallery Award here.



Tell us about yourself. Where are you based and where do you get your inspiration for your work?
I am a true Capetonian, living and working from my home in Milnerton.  Most of my work happens on the dining room table and in my ‘studio’, which is a tiny little corner in the lounge.

My biggest inspiration stems from my own personal experience as a recovering alcoholic. I share the process of being clean and sober with other recovering alcoholics. I find the human connectivity I experience with them to be inspiring and it fills me with the need and energy to express it.

Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?

Music and podcasts are always part of my art-making ritual. Usually something uplifting with a positive message or a nostalgic beat. And coffee, there should always be coffee!

Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
I follow artists working in various mediums and art forms. At the moment I am drawn to the works of Kali van der Merwe and Natalie Field. Their ability to combine photography techniques and other art practices amaze me. Their use of botanical elements, insects and skeletal components fascinate and inspire me.  Also love the ceramic work of Andile Dyalvane and his approach to the use of colour, texture and shape.

How is your work relevant in a South African context? And globally?
As a South African I am very aware of the influences of the various cultures that make up my homeland. My work includes elements of both local and global cultures. For example, my art may include designs inspired by Ndebele aprons and neck pendants, Zulu earplugs and patterns from my own Afrikaans culture while it may also include symbolic patterns and shapes inspired by Islamic prayer mats.
What do you think South African artists can contribute to the global art market?
The amount of artistic talent we have in South Africa is astonishing. I think we are a different kind of creative clan. Our unique history has crafted an inventive streak in us. It has also made us hungry to be acknowledged, locally and internationally. We have a different kind of art on offer that reflects elements of our beautiful country and also exposes some of our South African soul.

What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?
The StateoftheArt Gallery Award is perfect for drawing out all the talented artists hiding in nooks and crannies throughout our country. It is one of few competitions that have no age limit. As a nearly 40-year-old mother of two (who recently quit her 14 year lecturing career and a short stint in the catering industry), I have passed the age to enter competitions where the maximum age limit is 35.  So, thank you!

How do you think selling art online and marketing through social media is valuable?
The Internet has changed the experience of buying art. Consequently, art lovers have a worldwide platter of art at their fingertips. Selling art online and having an active social media presence is extremely valuable and important.

It has become affordable and easy for artists to team up with galleries so as to market artworks. And, online marketing is a pivotal point of exposure - not only to ensure enough traffic to websites and social media pages - but also enjoying additional marketing when posts are shared and reposted - the more eyes, the better.

The quality of photographs taken with our mobile phone cameras has made it possible to share processes and close-ups of work instantly and effortlessly. With the increase of art related apps, specifically created for the arts, it is now easier than ever to market and sell artworks to a global audience.

Notwithstanding all of that, a human connection or interaction between artist and buyer is still special and needed, and will always be.

How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works?
The judges did an amazing job considering the amount of talented artist that entered and I think that the quality and standard of selected work attests to this. I cannot wait for the exhibition and look forward to see all top 10 finalists' work exhibited. The chosen work seems as if it was meant to be exhibited together, a perfect fit.

Do you have any plans for the coming year?
Produce, produce, produce.

If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2019?
To win the StateoftheArt Gallery Award would be unreal! I would love to produce larger pieces as well as one or two installation works. The cash prize will be fantastic, as the cost of framing larger artworks will no longer constrain my creative plan for a solo exhibition. The prospect of introducing colour into new works, incorporating new layers and other types of clay excites me.


Capetonian Jo Roets is a passionate painter, sculptor and a mould maker enthusiast.
In 2017, after 14 years as a senior lecturer at CityVarsity (School of Media and Creative Arts) Jo exchanged her lecturing cap for that of a full time artist. At CityVarsity's Art Department she lectured in; painting, prosthetics, special effects, props fabrication, sculpting, mould making and casting. Her teaching allowed students to gain extensive knowledge of a range of materials and various techniques. And it gave her great satisfaction to see young creatives emerge as fully fledged artists ready to enter the demanding world of film.
Jo's current art work involves an exploration of her fascination with the geometric patterns and symmetry found in the complex structures of nature. She uses a variety of mediums and processes. One of the outcomes is the creation of light relief sculptures where she pushes the paper thin material to almost breaking point.