The building of a culture is essentially about growth - the layering of traditions and narratives and the connections made. Many symbols, personal to me, are also relevant in the broader South African context. With land being a key issue in South Africa, our interaction with the environment, both natural and man-made, is complex and becomes increasingly more complicated as we exploit the natural world for our perceived well-being. Not only do we influence the environment by what we do within it, but our surroundings have a marked influence on us and how we think.
In this body of work, the monotype prints are created using physical, mostly natural, specimens - much like the traditional Japanese gyotaku method. Each work/circle is composed of two halves, each stitched with an element from its opposite half, signifying our commonalities rather than our differences. The circles suggest the lens of a microscope, the greater world in which we live and the circle of life too. The woven structures connecting the two halves suggest the colourful melange of life and culture at our core, around which we have to find a balance. The root impression on each side reminds us not to forget our past. Each work has an impression of my family seal in wax and a thumbprint as part of my signature.
With my quiet marks and impressions, I hope to stimulate the viewers’ curiosity to notice the small, transient details, and to observe and learn from the rhythms of nature.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from, and where do you currently live?
Originally from Port Elizabeth, I’ve lived in various places around South Africa including Port Alfred, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Durbanville. I’ve lived in Pringle Bay, near Cape Town, for the past 6 years and absolutely love it. I’ve always used Art/Craft in some way to earn my living but have only been a full time artist ‘doing my own thing’ for the past 5 years.
Art school (and if so where) or self-taught?
I have a Higher National diploma in Textile design from the Port Elizabeth Technikon (now Nelson Mandela University). My printmaking and painting is self-taught.
How did you learn about the Award and what made you want to enter?
The Award is very well advertised: I’ve seen it on Social Media and know a few people who entered last year, including the winner Jo Roets. I particularly wanted to enter this year as the theme of ‘Cultivating Culture’ drew me in. It was also an opportunity to focus on particular issues within a small body of work.
What do you think of the StateoftheART Gallery Award as a platform for emerging artists in South Africa?
StateoftheART Gallery promotes the Award and their artists really well so I think it’s a particularly good platform for emerging artists.
Tell us about where you make your work.
I am very blessed to have a dedicated work space – my studio is a converted garage attached to my home. As I work a lot with found objects, I am a squirrel and my studio is full of my ‘treasure’ which is (relatively) organized into labelled boxes. I was lucky enough to find a printing press a few years ago which has enabled me to work the way I do.
What is your key inspiration as an artist?
I am undoubtedly inspired by my natural surroundings - I observe the colours, lines, textures, shapes and patterns in my environment, drawing on them constantly in my creative process.
Do you have any rituals or habits involving your art-making that you can tell us about?
My day usually begins with a walk where I can explore the details of my surrounding often adding to my collection of ‘found objects’ whether they be plants, beach finds, rusty stuff and sometimes carrion, all providing a tangible link to the landscape in which I live.
Which new trends or South African artists do you find inspiring at the moment?
I try not to be influenced by trends and to just do what I do. I am intrigued though, by many artists ability to work with their ‘stream of consciousness’, which does seem to be becoming a trend.
There are many exceptionally talented artists in South Africa but I’m always inspired by Shany van den Berg and I’m fascinated by the wonderful light in the work of Jeannie Kinsler.
How is your work relevant in a South African context?
I include fynbos in most of my monotypes and painted collages and think of it as a part of ‘record keeping. As I really believe that one’s immediate environment plays a huge part in the art one makes, what I do could only be done in South Africa. I am struck by how much of my personal symbolism is very relevant to our collective culture. Land plays an important part in the South African narrative – our interaction with our environment, both natural and man-made, is complex, becoming increasingly more complicated as we exploit the natural world for our perceived well-being. In my work I concentrate on the surrounding beauty and fragility.
What do you think South African artists can contribute to the global art market?
South Africa is blessed with so many hard working talented artists who have, in many cases, a different view of the world. With a rich and inherent tradition for art making in so many diverse ways, I think we have a very real contribution to make.
StateoftheART is South Africa's leading online gallery. How important do you think it is for an artist's career to market their work online and through social media?
It’s really important for artists to have an online presence and the possibility of being part of a very active online gallery is a huge opportunity.
How do you feel about the upcoming group exhibition and the other shortlisted finalists’ works?
I’m very excited to be part of the upcoming exhibition and am looking forward to seeing the physical complex and eclectic collection of work by my fellow participants.
Do you have any plans for the coming year?
As an artist one is continually working to find opportunities for inclusion in group exhibitions as well as combining with other artists to facilitate exhibitions of one’s own. I am currently working with two artist friends to get an exhibition together for 2021. Dare I be so bold as to say I plan to work on my solo exhibition?!
If you win the Gallery Award, tell us about what you have in mind for your solo exhibition in 2020?
I’d really love the opportunity to ‘take a line for a walk’ (Paul Klee). My entries for the award were called ‘Lifelines l, ll and lll’, which has a double meaning. I’d like to expand this idea to incorporate other ideas around the theme ‘Lines’: ‘Sightlines’ for example, would include the use of braille and a ‘hidden print’ to be revealed over time by touching the work.
Finally, tell us something surprising about yourself.
While my ‘own’ work is serious with underlying meaning and themes, I have written 11 ‘how to’ art books, have a book of Craft Illustrations, and 5 adult colouring books. My mandala colouring book was used as the inspiration for an embroidery book. All 18 published by Metz Press, many available internationally. http://moniquedaywilde.co.za/books/