26 May – 14 June 2014 @ artSpace durban
Curated by: Grace Kotze
Unthinkingly artists are hemmed in by the way we see, feel and create. The external voices of cultural norms, the need to make money, ethical judgments, relationships, and academic judgment etc. so often sneak into the creative realm. Thus clipping one’s authentic exploratory intentions and obscuring ones vision. Being an artist is one of the most romanticised professions where the creative process is viewed as a relaxed and easy flowing process. The intensity involved in the learning, refining and developing of one’s craft is vastly taxing and time consuming especially with the battle against external voices and how to placate them in ones journey as an artist.
The shows intentions are to prompt artists to take a deep breath, reassess what the process of making art means to their true intentions, and then work from that place. Exhale examines this through printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, and painting. The invited artists are Suraya Tewary, Deidre Maree, Louise Jennings, Jane Oliver, Jeannie Kinsler, Vulindlela Nyoni,Marlene de Beer, Marlene Wasserman, Chris de Beer, Kristin Hua Yang, Sarah Lovejoy, Elizabeth Balcomb , Peter Rippon, Grace Kotze, Sarah Richards, Kim Goodwin and Jackie Freer.
To “Exhale” means very different things to each individual and vary during the individuals creative journey. For some the journey may lead to a break from the academia and time to play or reinvent a more commercial style. Other artists found themselves exploring new materials or subjects while others worked in partnership with others or academic processes.
While attempting to ‘exhale’, many of the artists find the process of connecting to a freedom and shift in perceptions anything but exhaling but rather another type of toiling. One that produced many struggles in order to inhabit a space, were it is easy to breathe personal concerns. “Exhale” is a show about letting go of an area that became stifling that so often happens when one is faced with the multifaceted world of the fine artists.
I have been concerned about the piles of plastic I use each day in my kitchen. So I thought I would make sculpture with it as well as using other recycled commercially produced plastic (used to make benches etc). It has not been easy. Plastic is a moody material and unpredictable; each type of plastic reacting differently to heat.
In creating these works I realised that the only way to rid our planet of plastic is not to use it or even better not to create it in the first place. It is very toxic; plumes of smoke drifted into the atmosphere as I worked, and the dust from the grindings go everywhere. In essence my 'recycling' was not helping the issue.
I have also used aluminium and concrete in these works. Both are mined and both are used excessively in our modern culture. The aluminium flowers were cast from cheap plastic flowers. The dilemma I have is that I use plastic every day and cast my sculptures into materials that are mined and either pollute or damage this earth. What can I do about this? As a human I am in essence destructive, and do things for my own gain. But how do I do what I love to do and not be a drain on the planet? I am in conflict with myself between my human cultural norms and amazing creations and inventions, and the evidence that indicate a gradual demise of the planet as we know it.
So although these sculptures were a fun experiment, creating them brought home the realisation that there may well be nothing left of natural value for the children of the future, just plastic and other 'things', all created from products extracted from the earth, destroying what is naturally beautiful and amazingly created.