There’s an infusion of woman-themed and woman-produced art works in the ZULU LULU Art House gallery in the KZN Midlands this month.
In celebration of Women’s Month, the Piggly Wiggly based gallery has turned over the entire front section to their most popular female artists.
These include Durban-based ceramic artist Carol Hayward-Fell; KZN South Coast based painter Diane Erasmus; Durban painter Michelle Offerman and award-winning ceramic artist and gallery co-founder, Trayci Tompkins (pictured on the left).
Tompkins says the gallery currently exhibits over 30 female artists in the mediums of ceramics and fine art — a 75-percent representation.
Several of Hayward-Fell’s signature high-fired ceramic horses are on display. “I generally use a buff or terra-cotta clay and paint over it with several layers of either white porcelain clay or coloured clay or dark oxide. This enables me to scratch patterns through the upper layer, to reveal the clay colour beneath,” she says.
Hayward-Fell adds that her sense of humour often comes through in her work. “I love to surprise someone viewing my art. Whether it be an unexpected combination of a horse and another animal, or if the horse is covered with tattoo-like patterns; I enjoy combining the familiar with the unexpected resulting in something that is quirky and new.”
Erasmus, whose Impressionistic oil on canvas paintings are inspired by the beauty of the natural world, says she believes being a woman gives her an advantage with what she’s trying to achieve in her work.
“Women are inclined to be more gentle and nurturing and it is important for me that this comes across in my work. The ‘spirit’ of the work is very important to me. It is very much a part of what I am trying to capture and represent. I strive to capture the essence of my subject in a way which makes me feel that I am a part of it,” says Erasmus.
Michelle Offerman, whose Midlands inspired oils on canvas are in the gallery, says being a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister and a daughter has “formed me into the artist I am.”
“I would hope that my work reflects the joy I feel in life and especially my love and interest for nature. I love the contrasts and flow of colour and form in nature that is continuously shifting so that there is always something new and exciting to see,” adds Offerman.
Tompkins meanwhile says her latest pieces — a range of ‘Africa Queen’ legacy urns, vases and platters — are a celebration of the dynamic strength of women. Many feature portraits of African women. “I find influence in strong beautiful ethnic faces that surround me in my home province of KwaZulu-Natal to which I apply a sort of Elizabethan period drama moodiness. It’s my theatrical background that inspires this combination.
“My fascination for the Queens of England throughout history creates a bold assertiveness whilst Mexican artist Frida Kahlo inspires a colourful playfulness,” says Tompkins.
“This new work merges the art of the ceramic maker with that of the painter and print maker and is the start of an exciting new dialogue for me. After previously handing my work over to the flames and glaze effects of Raku firing, I am now connecting with the work in a different way… like an artist does with a canvas, I suppose. It’s a complex process as so much can go ‘wrong’ in both the construction and glaze firings but it makes the ones that do work even more special,” says Tompkins.
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