Meet the Artists
Adele van Heerden
Cape Town artist Adele van Heerden pays close attention to complexity. As an artist and curator living in a world where the binary has been replaced by the spectrum, Van Heerden revels in the beauties of the multifarious, creating intricate pieces in ink & gouache on paper which juxtapose the natural world with human history. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, she produces finely detailed, often layered work as a personal response to the particular social, historical and political conditions she finds herself in. After graduating with a degree in Fine Arts from the Ruth Prowse School of Art in 2010, Van Heerden continued her studies at the University of South Africa, obtaining a BA in History and Politics. In 2015, she graduated from the University of Cape Town with an Honours Degree in Curatorship.
Aimee Lindeque was born and raised on a farm in Mpumalanga, South Africa. After matriculating In 2013, she moved to Cape Town to study Fine Art at Michaelis UCT (university of Cape Town) where she majored in Sculpture and Art History. After graduating with a Bachelors in Fine Art, she became a full time artist in Cape Town. Aimee creates intricate watercolour and acrylic paintings, ink drawings, murals and illustrations. Since childhood, she has developed a deep love for Illustration and cartoons. The works of Jean Giraud and Martin Handford have had a large influence on her art. She enjoys doing studies of daily life, absorbing a wide variety of experiences and moments. Her work can be seen as a kaleidoscope of surreal imagery that references these experiences. She playfully describes her work as "Hieronymus Bosch meets where’s Wally".
Painter and printmaker Aviwe Plaatje uses portraiture to explore the world around him. Working primarily with oil painting and the relief printing technique of linocut, he renders people from his community. Often, his compositions meld portraiture with abstract patterns and expressive colors. His intricate, multi-layered linocuts use the medium’s propensity towards texture to create uniquely expressive portraits. “I very much like the way you can record an instant observation or doodle away your unconscious thoughts and ideas,” Plaatje has said. “In my artwork I document scenes I come across in day-to-day life. My inspiration comes from the world around me, I love absorbing my surroundings. I simply comment on life.” His uniquely expressive portraits and his play with patterns recalls other Black figurative artists including Toyin Ojih Odutola, Kehinde Wiley, and Barkley L. Hendricks.
Catherine Ocholla was born in Kenya in 1983. She grew up in South Africa and obtained a BA degree in Fine Art at the University of Cape Town in 2007, followed by a Master's degree in Fine Art in 2022. Her professional career spans 15 years during which she immersed herself in a number of art related projects that include the curation of group events and the participation in solo and group exhibitions. An exceptional painter, Catherine's primary focus is on the sky as a backdrop to humanity’s (mostly self imposed) dramas, with more environmental undertones that point to issues of global warming, land, pollution, and as a reflection on how we will be remembered by future generations: an attempt to both capture the zeitgeist of this era and imagine different iterations of the future. Like Phillip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids dream of electric sheep’, she leaves these paintings as a warning of what we stand to lose as we continue to take nature for granted; the sky above us now might be the simulated dream of others in years to come.
Nokukhanya Charity Vilakazi(B. 1992 - Ethekwini, RSA) is a multimedia artist and visual orator. Working primarily with the mediums of photography, painting and video art. She make works using ibomvu (Red clay) with acrylic paints as a way to show the beauty of her characters as that was and still is a form of beautification practiced by African womxn .These works are inspired by African folktales/literature and traditional story telling through a matriarchal gaze. Womxn have controlled societal views of what is expected of them. I had a privilege of being surrounded by grandmothers that believed in enforcing values that we as young girls are worth everything as the boys and they made sure to tell us tales that had a women protagonist they would tell us tales, which were handed down by word of mouth through generations and are an essential part of keeping up tradition. These tales both educated and entertained us. It was or is the backbone of keeping us united and having a sense of belonging within the realms of our ancestors. Her work is highlighting African women in folktales that illustrate the liberated and disruptive potential of the female power, resilience, wisdom and agency. Authenticate female agency and are restored and empowering to the African woman’s psyche, and it also tells the wisdom of folklore, myth, fantasy, and social history, can instigate social change and egalitarian relations whilst celebrating the women of Africa as key protagonists, profound in their power as in their humanity. A principal theme in my work is Feminism, mythology, spirituality and influences that explores gynocentric norms in an African context
Claude Chandler is a Cape Town-based artist with a N.Diploma in Fine Arts who works out of SideTrack Studios, which he also manages. His work consists of large abstract portraits created using his unique 'stamp' technique, which involves using stamps of his own design to create intricate, textured patterns on his canvases. Chandler has participated in numerous art fairs, both locally and abroad, and is inspired by digital technologies and the ways in which we perceive the world through screens and lenses. His work revolves around the concept of 'ways of seeing,' exploring the illusions of the digital self/avatar and commenting on the impact of technology on our daily lives. Through his art, Chandler invites viewers to question their own perceptions and to contemplate the relationship between the self and the digital world. His work has been featured in several exhibitions and has garnered critical acclaim for its innovative approach and powerful imagery. Overall, Chandler is an accomplished artist with a unique style and a commitment to exploring the intersections of art, technology, and human experience.
Frances White is a contemporary artist and designer living in Cape Town, South Africa. Born in KwaZulu Natal and raised in Johannesburg. Frances majored in English literature, history of art and painting at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. Frances plays with the boundary between art and design, drawing on influences of Pop Art, and pattern, fabric and surface design, ultimately constructing her own distinctive style. Her fascination with the interplay of colours and strong graphic shapes is under-pinned by a mastery of traditional media like oil on canvas, and oil on board, elements which are in strong contrast with the contemporary nature of her work. Her work in enamel, glitter, reflective and hologramic vinyls and surfaces, tries to capture her fascination with light, and how it refracts, reflects and prisms into colour.
Joanna Lee Miller
I paint landscapes and portraits to hold onto a moment in time, to feel present, to celebrate being alive, and to connect each of us to what is deep within us. I paint en plein air (in the open air, outdoors) and from life. My style is expressive, bold, quick – often because this is exactly what is required to capture the fast-changing light and quickly moving clouds. I am captivated by my natural environment and the endless challenge to render in paint the beauty I see around me. I apply my academic training to bring realism to my paintings, yet I leave plenty of space for bright, unexpected colours, and stylised shapes to bring out the essence of my subjects. Art for me is like a mirror to existence. Art causes me to feel, validates and contains my feelings, gives me a sense of belonging in this world, and helps me understand my place. I aim for my art to bring this sense of presence and connection to others, as we share in our human experience I have recently returned to Cape Town, the city of my birth, after studying for three years at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. Prior to this, I lived and worked in New York, London and Singapore, pursuing a corporate career in Change Management and Human Resources, before committing to my true passion – celebrating nature and people with canvas, brushes and oils.
Karen Wykerd is a Cape Town-based artist who works across a range of media. Using embroidery and painting - on canvas, paper or glass – she combines dissolution with detail to express her ongoing fascination with everyday city life. From her easel she explores both urban and natural environments, constantly in pursuit of light. Her endless search takes her down busy streets, forest paths and high above the city. Captured first in photography and then in pigment or thread, her understated scenes are defined and transformed by light. Each individual brushstroke or stitch reveals the ever-evolving interaction between sunlight and shadow. For Wykerd, a city is a place whose energy materialises in the meeting point of such dualities - concrete and trees, grids and the flow of water, rhythm and stillness, control and chance. Process is an important part of the work. While Wykerd’s considered mark-making is meditative, the slow layering of brushstrokes, combined with translucent washes of soft colour, allow her to depict light in all its changing qualities. There are also elements of serendipity at play, acknowledging the necessity of exploring the unfamiliar in order to gain insight. Wykerd’s work is a quiet reverie. Whether she depicts a dappled pool, a shaded street or golden beach, the muted scenes she captures are calm oases amid the distractions of contemporary living. Her translucent washes of verdant colour around figures swimming, strolling and floating create scenes of immersion in nature. By including such figures in her work, she invites her audience to share her vision. The dreamily indistinct backgrounds and tranquil palette combine to give us moments of rest and reflection where we can be reacquainted with nature, and our selves.
Kim Gurney (PhD) is a writer, visual artist and researcher who works in an interdisciplinary way. Her artistic practice generally engages disappearances of different kinds and makes restorative gestures. She has held two solo shows in Johannesburg and participates on group exhibitions as well as collaborating with other artists, primarily on public space interventions. To that end, Kim runs a nomadic platform, guerilla gallery, for occasional small-scale provocations with other artists. In 2023, it temporarily inhabits The Shed, “a tiny space for big ideas”. Kim has written three books linking art, everyday urban life, and futures thinking: ‘The Art of Public Space: Curating and Re-imagining the Ephemeral City’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), ‘August House is Dead, Long Live August House! The Story of a Johannesburg Atelier’ (Fourthwall Books, 2017), and ‘Panya Routes: Independent art spaces in Africa’ (Motto Books, 2022). Kim is a Research Fellow at Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, and a Research Associate, University of Cape Town’s African Centre for Cities. www.kimgurney.com Instagram: @kim_gurney www.guerillaza.blogspot.com
As an artist, I am constantly exploring new ways to depict that which I believe in and connect with in the most honest way possible. I trust that the viewer will experience something when looking at work that was created with passion, but also with context that is personal to the artist. This is the power of art.
I am a Fine Artist working mainly in oils and alcohol ink. My point of origin is my place as a young, white, Afrikaans-speaking female in post-colonial, post-Apartheid South Africa. I have been sheltered in my parents’ middle-class, suburban home in Randburg, Johannesburg. As I have ventured outside this privilege I was born into, I am frequently challenged to question my identity and the advantages I have been afforded. Family photographs are the source material for many of my paintings. They are snapshots of the joyous experiences and memorable moments of my parents and grandparents from the 1930s to the early 1990s. I return to these images with difficulty as they resemble the memories and histories of many Afrikaner families during the Apartheid years. Documented moments of joy that appear to disregard political and social wrongs of the time. In post-Apartheid South Africa, I feel that many white, Afrikaans-speaking people need rehabilitation. I, therefore, use my art to explore the past and present to reconcile the privilege of my birth, and the pride and love for my heritage, with being a truly South African in our new democracy.
My studio practice is centered around experimentation and the invention of spaces. In the studio I make, test, play and push around materials, colour and forms. All these collages, 3-d objects and scraps of studio detritus along with numerous images of fashion, interiors and art end up scattered on the studio floor. I look to these images and non-images to trigger chance happenings in my paintings. As I paint I deliberately make a mess and then try and fix it.
Rentia Retief (b.1992, Caledon) received a Bachelors in fine arts from the University of Stellenbosch in 2014, and an Honours in illustration in 2016. She currently lives and works in Somerset West where she spends a lot of time in the surrounding nature and mountains which serves as a great influence on her work. Rentia captures her experience of the great outdoors by means of drawing and painting. in her work she expresses her awareness of our brief presence in this world and captures the fleeting moment by often drawing on a grand scale and in en-plain-air. Her drawings are an attempt to share the feelings that transcend the visual perception of her surrounds; with the movement and energy of the natural elements that contributes to the mark making process. These landscapes are an invitation for the viewer to feel the moment, even though one cannot perceive it in its entirety. from her study to capture the movement of the moment she furthermore explores what we understand as a wild or unhindered environment in comparison to what is considered as tame.
Robyn Pretorius started her art journey from a young age but only after a career shift committed herself to become a full-time artist and invested more time in art research. This encouraged her to create a significant body of work which would introduce her into the local art industry. Since then she has landed her first solo exhibition in 2016 at Youngblood Gallery and extended her reach in the local art industry. Her art practice has shown commitment to the local art scene but has also reached the international audience with exhibitions in New York and Europe. She attended her first art residency at Glo’art, Global Art Centre in Belgium in 2018. This experience allowed her to experiment, explore and refine her practice. Today, Robyn Pretorius has grown tremendously as a local emerging artist and uses her art to uplift and convey a narrative which is greatly inspired by her community and personal experiences.
Tanja Truscott’s artwork is born from a fascination with painterly abstraction and the power it has to engage us visually and emotionally. She works intuitively and is inspired by sounds and sensations from the outdoors ... or just as easily by literature, poetry and music. Any of these can be the impetus for the colours and tools she chooses, the marks made and the shapes that emerge. Born in the Netherlands but now living and working in Cape Town, Truscott received a BA in Graphic Design from the University of Stellenbosch in 1984 and a Diploma in Secondary Teaching in 1990 from the University of Cape Town. She has taught art and after many years spent in educational publishing as an illustrator, graphic designer and art director, she turned to painting full time in 2015. Truscott’s most recent group exhibitions in Cape Town (2019) include Secret Garden at Art-on-Avenues and Nano 1.3 at the Barnard Gallery. Her work is represented in private collections both locally and abroad.
African Center for Cities
ACC is an interdisciplinary hub at the University of Cape Town with a mandate to conduct meaningful research on how to understand, recast and address pressing urban crises. Since most urban challenges—for example, food security, climate change adaptation, economic inclusion, cultural vitality and tolerance—are inherently interdisciplinary and spatially layered, ACC nurtures the co-production of knowledge between academia and other social sectors. Furthermore, research gets designed with multiple publics in mind and a concern with continuously enriching curriculum and postgraduate development