The text reads:
StateoftheART award and solo exhibition for Jo Roets.
by Luke Folb
Alcohol addiction led sculptor Jo Roets down a path of discovery where she combined cultural differences to mould air-dried clay doilies, which launched her lifelong ambition to be an artist.
Roets combines elements of various South African cultures using symbolic patterns and shapes inspired by Islamic prayer mats, Ndebele aprons and neck pendants, iziqhaza (Zulu earplugs), beer pots and patterns from her grandmother’s doilies to create her artwork.
Her unique work recently won the StateoftheART Gallery Award, which includes a R10000 cash prize and a solo exhibition at the gallery to be held next year.
“My Afrikaans grandmother always had crocheted doilies in her house. Their geometric patterns contained elements of sacred geometry.
“I have always been fascinated with sacred geometry as a spiritual expression, and this subject matter found a perfect fit in the air-drying clay medium that I use to create my light relief sculptures,” she said.
Roets said she was having the time of her life learning about new cultures and designing her artworks, which she first sketches on a notebook before making them.
“I design a piece up to a point and then I let the clay do the work because in the moment you’ll feel something and be guided by that shape. I do all my research by reading books in the library,” said Roets.
Following a period of alcohol addiction, Roets became sober three years ago. She worked as a film lecturer at City Varsity for 14 years, where she taught painting, prosthetics, special effects and props fabrication, among other subjects. She quit her job last year to become a full time artist.
“I did art in high school but then I decided not to study fine arts because I thought I couldn’t make money in that, so I went the film route and then became a lecturer.
“When I got sober, I worked through a lot of things and then decided to bite the bullet and leave my job,” said Roets.
She added: “I’ve been naive going into the art world, but I thought I needed something that’s so unique to break into this market, and I entered many exhibitions and art competitions to get that exposure.”
The novice artist said winning the solo exhibition would help her ambitions to further her career.
“This whole year was about getting me to a solo exhibition, which means that I can now try to do 3D sculptures and installations, which I can make out of stronger materials, because the dollies are very fragile so I have to frame them behind glass.”