Nola’s Garden

Leucospermum Cordifolium by Nola Muller

Leucospermum Cordifolium by Nola Muller

Nola Muller taps into the abundance of the natural world with an energy that never ceases to astound. Her paintings are the physical and permanent manifestations of an event. They are the visual realisations of a process that starts from a journey through the remote parts of the Kalahari, a surfing trip to the Maldives or a trek in the Nepalese Himalayas. The delight she derives from ‘knowing’ her subject is clear in her work. The inspiration for this particular series of paintings was plucked directly from the artist’s garden, which was recently recognised as the best indigenous garden on the open day in the Noordhoek Valley. – Gail Dörje, owner and curator of The Cape Gallery.

Visiting Nola’s Garden

Nola’s home is full of life. Upon first sight, Nola greeted us with a friendly smile and a wriggling poodle in her arms. While enjoying cake and coffee, Nola spoke fondly of her journey over years nurturing the garden into its current state, collecting specimens that would become residents and experimenting with trial and error methods, as though she had grown with the garden. She proceeded to pull books from shelves to show us various plant species indigenous to our region and recalled rare discoveries, such as stumbling upon a Protea that had bloomed for the first time in 40 years while hiking.

Naturally when the time came for us to enter the garden, we exhibited the same enthusiasm, excitement and curiosity as Nola’s poodle. The garden not only bursted forth with fresh life and colour, but teemed with Nola’s creativity as well. Whale bones, stones collected while traveling, homemade arches and waterfalls had been carefully placed, awaiting eager viewers, humans, birds and bees alike, who would marvel at the space.

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Nola’s artworks have always been rooted in her experiences – her thirst for adventure and greater knowledge of the world; its varying cultures and landscapes. This exhibition, however, is closer to home. For the first time, we get a glimpse of the life and serenity Nola has surrounded herself with. As she spoke, an image of  the woman who pauses to revel in the fine details on the road to great adventures began to emerge – the variations in light; the fleeting visitors who cross her path throughout the day. This collection of paintings looks at those finer details through Nola’s eyes with the same bold, fresh energy.

Nola has exhibited in France and throughout South Africa, including several solo and group exhibitions throughout her career as an artist. Her work has been featured in a number of exhibitions at The Cape Gallery.

Left: King Protea (Cynaroides); Centre: Protea Cynaroides; Right: Young Aloe

Left: King Protea (Cynaroides); Centre: Protea Cynaroides; Right: Young Aloe

Nola says:

“When the March Lilies started appearing in February this year, I began to feast from my garden. I’ve spent these six months savouring the growth, observing the magic of colour emerging every day. From the blue Agapanthus, the pink Giant Proteas, the red Fire Ericas to the orange Aloes, I’ve been fed with inspiration that has culminated in this collection of ‘Nola’s Garden’.

Now that the Leucospernum (Pincushions) are popping my canvasses climax in colour and my appetite is nearly fulfilled. How lucky I am to plant, nurture, enjoy and now gorge my canvasses with brush strokes of love for my own indigenous Cape Floral Kingdom.”

Nola Muller at the studio

Nola Muller at the studio

Click to view Nola’s work

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Angela Key’s encounter: from the Auob riverbed to the studio

Each year, The Cape Gallery hosts an exhibition of artwork by some of the best wildlife artists in the country. These artists are passionate about wildlife and conservation. Their inspiration often stems from personal experiences with their subjects. Angela Key recalls a close, touching encounter with a family of Bat-Eared Foxes, which inspired a work included in the current Wildlife Exhibition:

Angela Key; 'Bat Eared Fox Family'; Pastel; 38 x 63 cm

Angela Key; ‘Bat Eared Fox Family’; Pastel; 38 x 63 cm

“We’ve been scrutinizing every inch of the Auob riverbed for more than a month.

We almost missed them curled up among the fallen branches of a camelthorn…only the enormous ears exposed them: a pair of bat-eared foxes.

In the Kgalagadi, you often see these charismatic little foxes trotting along the riverbed, backs arched, dish-shaped ears pivoted forward. Acting as parabolic reflectors, their ears can amplify the slightest sound, even beetle larvae and harvester termites located deep underground. When it hears something, the fox stops, digs frantically with its forefeet and then chomps triumphantly on a termite.

These foxes have finished foraging for the night. The sun will soon rise over the red dunes flanking the banks of the Auob. A Kalahari Robin strikes up a few tentative notes, announcing the coming dawn.

As if responding, the female fox rises, stretches and shakes the dust from her coat. She scans up and down the riverbed before approaching us. We are parked within 5 meters of an old aardvark burrow. The fox approaches the entrance and calls softly. Two black-tipped ears twitch in the first rays of light…a fluffy face peeps at us, eyes blinking, then disappearing back into the darkness. We remain motionless.

Minutes pass…then magically two pups emerge. Legs firmly planted, the female braces herself. The pups attach themselves to her teats, bushy black tails wagging, front paws pummelling her belly to stimulate milk flow. When the female’s finished nursing, the male attends to grooming each pup thoroughly and keeping a watchful eye as they charge from one bolt-hole to another, tumbling in the thorny scrub and collapsing in plumes of dust. This is undoubtedly the highlight of our past two months in the Kgalagadi and a delight to draw every day at the easel!”

View Angela Key’s work

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Kitty Dörje discusses ‘From the Promenade to the Sea’

Local artist, Kitty Dörje stopped by at The Cape Gallery to discuss a work titled ‘From the Promenade to the Sea’, one of her more recent charcoal drawings.

View Kitty Dörje’s work at The Cape Gallery

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Sheila Petousis discusses Transition

Sheila Petousis discusses the inspiration behind her latest work, titled Transition:

It’s Sunday afternoon…furtively I scan the neighbours windows before I clip a flower…one I’ve spotted on my morning walks in Hiddingh… Then it’s off to the beach with my flower to play – I have carefree childhood memories building dragons and castles that would all eventually be claimed by the sea…my parents have always found time for and encouraged play… I now make it my weekly ritual…

Then there is also marking time – linear time (where social media and the internet seem to have flattened my past and made everything current). I love the anticipation of creating an event to look forward to and fulfil on, not quite knowing how – it’s satisfying. Over time it gives me a filter to observe nature – plants, the rhythms of tides and seasons and so reflect on my own…human nature, humanity.

Protea

Sheila Petousis, Transition 1/10, Photograph, 63 x 63 cm

Sheila Petousis, Transition 1/10, Photograph, 63 x 63 cm

I’ve called this Protea Transition.

Inspired by my mother in law Kitty, who passed on 25 January 2016…her passion for life and her family and even now her generosity – the fertile ground she has left us all in our renewal.

Transition

Definition: The process or period of changing from one state or condition to another.

Synonyms: Change, passage, adaption, metamorphosis, transformation…

 

This work is currently on show as part of The Rain Maker, the annual Winter Solstice exhibition at The Cape Gallery. Click to view more of Sheila Petousis’ work

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The Mary Poppins series by Kitty Dörje

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Kitty Dörje’s Mary Poppins series is currently on show as part of The Rain Maker: the annual Winter Solstice exhibition at The Cape Gallery. The exhibition runs until the 23rd of July 2016.

Click to view more work by Kitty Dörje

Kitty Dörje on the experiences that lead to the development of this series:

A sequence of 12 Etchings created in 2014

The story I have chosen is Mary Poppins. I came across this movie when I visited a friend in Dubai. She had downloaded it to entertain her children. I downloaded the words of the songs in an attempt to memorize them. There was too much distraction: a swimming pool to play in, neighbours to chat to, too much happening in the domestic domain. All I could do was watch a movie.

The story of Mary Poppins is of a young woman who is going out into the world armed with her umbrella and case. These are the only visible tools she has to earn an income. She knocks on the door of a house and is invited into an upper class banker’s home where her role is to educate the children. This ability to change their way of thinking allows the children to play in a male dominated house, where rules have killed spontaneity. She demonstrates the power of ideology that allows her to catch rides on clouds.

This body of work is made up of drawn still frames from the movie imposed on digital print outs of my childhood. I attended the German School and have used a snapshot of myself with my Schultüte as I am leaving the house on my first day. It is a German tradition where one takes a bag of sweets to the first day of school. My mother with an English background had made her own interpretation of the tradition. It was a cone container painted to look like a mouse. When I got to school I noticed it was a bit bigger than the other learners’. She had stuffed newspaper in the bottom. The other learners had sweets all the way down. I brought that to her attention when I got home. Yes I did have a privileged middle class upbringing.

I only stayed at the German School for one term and was then moved to Rustenburg Junior school with my sister. It was quite a sudden move into an all girl environment. I have used a photo of me with my sister in a school uniform standing outside the house getting ready to leave.

From my experience of schooling, I am aware that the South African school system is not well suited to everyone. I have just finished studying a postgraduate diploma in education at UCT in order to be an Art and Graphics teacher. I have done much reading and discussion on the problems faced in coming up with a single education syllabus that caters to the needs of children from Western, Muslim and African cultural origins.

It is an exciting time, however, I am not sure if standardization is the solution. I hope, in time, an education model will be developed to maximize the strengths of the African culture that lies in oral tradition, dancing, war craft, beading, pottery, stone and wood sculpture.  I hope future generations can dream beyond text. New technology like internet and video can help make this dream seen. Until that time comes I think this text will allow people to understand the context of my artwork.

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Immersion – a solo exhibition by Mandy Lake

mandy_lake_press

Immersion will be Mandy Lake’s first solo exhibition. She writes of her own work:

“We must find time to observe things…as though with our thinking we were in the things themselves. We must dive down into things, into their inner thought-activity. If we do so, we shall gradually perceive how we are entering the very life of things. We no longer have the feeling that the things are outside, and we are here in our shell, thinking of them; but we begin to feel how our thought is living and moving in the things themselves. To a man who has attained this high degree, a new world opens up.” – Rudolf Steiner

What asks to be painted is a question that concerns all artists. After experimenting with a number of subjects, it has been the vast oceans that have captured and sustain my imagination. This complex body of water, that is both fragile and all-powerful, that feeds us and transports us, can also so easily destroy us and sweep our land away before it. Here, on the South African coast, we are intimately connected to the seas that jostle each other at our southernmost tip. It is this intense relationship that I seek to capture in my paintings.  My views of the ocean are not distant seascapes, but close up encounters that try to convey some of the sheer splendour of each unique experience.

If I can communicate the deep affinity and longing for the primal waters that I believe we all share, if those who see my paintings feel, even briefly, a thrill, a resonance, a primeval pull toward the sea, then as an artist, I am content.

In our modern lives we have become desensitised to the wonders of the natural world. We need to reconnect, to recognise that we are just one small part of an awe-inspiring, interconnected natural system that has produced the miracle of life, and which we are incrementally destroying. We need to take time to experience these wonders, to re-sensitise ourselves and rediscover our reverence and respect. I want to help bring that connectedness back into our modern spaces.

I paint the sea that we all encounter from the beach and shore, yet I focus in on the waves, to change our perspective so that the viewer is no longer a spectator but becomes immersed. I seek to give the ocean back its power, to humble the viewer and reawaken their appreciation for the natural world.

I spend many hours by the ocean searching for the moments to capture, looking to find an exceptional composition, an instant in time that asks to be painted. Each encounter is unique, a remarkable and fleeting instant both abstract yet real – each wave and trough, each shimmy of light, each splash of foam, each swirl and eddy and thunderous crash…

I work in oil on canvas, often with limited colour palettes. I plot the basic composition with transparent glazes, build up the forms and features with opaques, and then use transparent whites and glazes to capture the translucence of the water, and then luminosity and interplay of light of the water surface.

As I continue to develop a deeper understanding of the structure of the waves, the play of light, the subtly changing palettes and moods of the ocean elements so my approach to painting them continues to evolve. It is a challenging and wondrous journey.

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Maureen Quin – The Dance of Life

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