More about the artists for VERGE
“Conservation has been a significant theme in my life since I was a child. It has affected the way I eat, the clothes I wear, and the way I choose to be a consumer in the world. I wanted to get involved in the exhibition to share a message about how our collective choices affect the world around us. Small actions we take on a daily basis can have a vast and long lasting impact on our environment. I would like my impact to be a positive one, or non invasive at the very least. Art allows us to preserve some of the beauty that we see in the world through a unique viewpoint. We can capture the most fragile ecosystems and creatures and give them a sense of longevity through our art.“
Annie le Roux
“I often have the feeling that i don’t belong. Mostly this feeling arises in homes, in suburbs or in cities where us humans have made our cozy noisy nests. However, it is when I am where humans aren’t, with only nature around me as far as the year can see, and as far as my ears can hear, I belong. Immediately.
I sometimes feel like a bird flying into a glass windowpane where open air should have been. Frightened, dumbstruck and dizzy from searching for a sense of belonging even within the homely space I have made with such tenderness and care.
Wild spaces fosters my belonging. The dark night sky brings me home. The stones and veld and far horison speaks a language the very deepest nature of my being understands. Nature mirrors our own quiet and wild vastness within. Without such spaces I too would whimper, wilt and die as countless species do daily, without their natural home or habitat, without a space of true belonging.
As i love, live, work, walk and travel between the Tankwa Karoo, Cape West Coast and Plettenberg Bay, I will be focusing on the species which has a deep, rich personal or mythical relevance to me : species like the critically endangered River Rhine rabbit of the Tankwa Karoo, the flowy and floaty eel grass in the estuaries and lagoons of the Garden Route and the rough rugged Renosterveld of the Cape and Klein Karoo.“
Living in the Cape Floristic Region, I am keenly aware of our rich natural heritage and the threats to its integrity. Not only is this area a hotspot of biodiversity, but Cape Town has been named the extinction capital of the world. Since this biome is diverse not only in terms of species content, but also geographically, some species exist exclusively in highly localised areas. If a small section of land is developed, unique habitat is destroyed and entire species may be lost. It’s for this reason that even relatively small scale urban development is such a threat to biodiversity in this area. In my lifetime I have seen enormous growth and development in my once small home town of Somerset West. Vast areas of open space have been developed and it seems this trend is just speeding up. In the process I have seen plots formerly bursting with rich indigenous flora covered with bricks and tar. If swift action is not taken we will lose all but a few bits of land that have protected status and possibly see more species go extinct within our lifetimes.
I view species as I do individual lifeforms; as beings with an inalienable right to exist and thrive. I see their extinction at the hand of man as a tragedy that is fully avoidable. Not only are we in danger of losing irreplaceable parts of our natural heritage, our immediate environment is becoming a less diverse, more boring place.
For this exhibition I have chosen to paint a few of the endangered plants that occur in my surrounds. They are but a tiny representation of the many treasures that might be forever lost if we continue to live without regard for the natural world.
Chris Lochner resides in the Helderberg, surrounded by the inspiring diversity of the Cape Floristic Region. After completing a BSc at the University of Stellenbosch in 2011 he became interested in the field of scientific illustration, and received tuition from with renowned botanical artist, Vicki Thomas. He has been exhibiting since 2015 and taken part in group-exhibitions at Kirstenbosch and the Irma Stern Museum.
Watercolour is his main medium and he has grown to most enjoy painting dry plant matter with its accentuated forms and limited, but vibrant, palette.
“Traditional botanical art focuses on the defining characteristics of plants. I prefer to depict subject matter with all its inherent flaws and to sometimes change scale in order to reveal detail that is otherwise hidden. The interplay of order and chaos, complexity and simplicity, makes organic matter very appealing and the recognition of beauty in its transience and imperfection informs my work. I hope that my paintings will inspire viewers to look closer and appreciate these qualities in plants and all parts of nature, animate and inanimate.”
Gwendolyn Meyer is an artist working in photography, on paper, with land art, curating, writing and co-creating participatory knowledge processes. Since completing a MPhil in Sustainable Development she has increasingly explored the visual as a form and platform, to consider ideas about human nature and participation in change at this planetary turning point. She locates her work in the Transdisciplinary move to transform how humans interact and frame their place within nature. She has a long standing interest in how rivers connect people to place.
After completing a doctorate in Zoology and spending over a decade researching zebra in East and Southern Africa, Halszka Covarr now focuses on a unique style of wildlife drawing, intended to raise awareness around conservation.
Her collection, Children and animals – a simple enjoyment, is inspired by her own children and her love of animals. This range of detailed pencil drawings looks to foster a simple appreciation of animals as they are. No ownership, petting or humanisation. Just an imaginative moment in pure friendship allowed by the innocence of youth.
“I draw and paint because I am compelled to do so.
It allows and empowers me to explore and express my understanding of nature, objects, people, myths, moments and time.
I feel that the process of image making should echo the ongoing shifting and shaping of the earth and it’s inhabitants and refresh our worldview.
The beauty and powerful presence of the marks left by the indigenous people of this land and scars of the passage of geological time forms the basis of the inspiration that informs my work.
Through drawing, and painting I hope to add to the way we look and relate to the world and our place amongst the stars and add to the stories told over time within the brief time we spend on our home planet.”
“I am in awe of the combination and incredible variety of plant species and other living organisms which are intertwined, delicately interdependent and is often still unknown. Apart from the obvious threats like development, farming practices and alien infestation, introduction of another species, exotic and even indigenous, can alter the conditions needed for survival of a single species and vegetation type irreversibly.
With so many threatened species to choose from I found it challenging to decide which species to focus on. I did a few quick sketches and eventually chose these two.
Satyrium princeps, a terrestrial orchid, is Redlisted as ‘Vulnerable’ and occurs naturally in the coastal sands from Wilderness to Port Alfred with its habitat under severe pressure by development. There is a stand that grows along the Logoon road leading into Knysna, the show of red flowers in late spring has always impressed me with their princely (‘princeps’) stance, giving me so much pleasure whilst I fear and fret that they will be decapitated by the mowers of the verges. Roadsides are often rich in species and the only place that natural vegetation remains in farming and developed areas, it would be ideal if these can be managed as ‘reserves’.
My other choice is not at all showy and can easily be overlooked and seen as just another green plant. Dioscoreaburchellii, ‘Near Threatened’ is related to Yams and the Elephant’s Foot, a small twining plant that was known from only ten locations in itsrange from Humansdorp to George. During alien clearing at Pledge Nature Reserve, I discovered one bravely climbing toward the light – on the stem of a Black Wattle! It was the first of about thirty plants found in the reserve to date.“
Helena Joubert is based in Knysna, and has a deep connection with the local landscape. A horticulturist specialising in vegetation rehabilitation, she is acutely aware of the devastation exacted by humans on our fragile eco-systems and how near impossible it is to truly ameliorate damage done. She is an active trustee/volunteer at Pledge Nature Reserve in Knysna. In 2017 she exhibited at Avo Pomme, Knysna, under the theme ‘Black to Green’ – inspired by the regrowth after the devastating fires in the area in the winter of 2017. Helena creates oil studies of scented indigenous flowers, of which she also captures the perfume.
Ingrid is a visual artist from Knysna. She has participated in various group exhibitions, is an active member of the Plettenberg ‘Vernissage’ life drawing group and participant in several exhibitions around the country opposing the proposed fracking.
For this exhibition I have found interest in the South African mammals which are on the IUCN red list. One of our most precious large cats particularly grabbed my attention as it is the fastest land mammal, and its populations are rapidly declining. There are less than 7000 mature individuals left in Africa.
The Cheetah is a wide ranging carnivore, never attaining densities higher than 2 individuals per 100km(square). Thus a great cause of the population decline is due to habitat loss and fragmentation. If they live outside protected areas they are vulnerable to conflict with livestock farmers and can result in their deaths. In further parts of Africa Cheetah are still being sold off for the illegal pet trade industry as well as sadly killed for their skins.
Another cause which opened my eyes to how we are personally affecting the decline is through the unregulated tourism. Cheetahs, especially with cubs, are a major tourist attraction and commonly attract large numbers of vehicles (a case study observed 64 vehicles present at one sighting over a period of 2 hours). It is important to be aware of strict viewing guidelines when we do visit and view wildlife. The rise in tourism has caused stress on the mothers with cubs and less and less cubs are reaching adulthood.
Although the population numbers are declining, we can be proud as South Africans that the majority of the number of Cheetahs left reside here in our homeland. We have very strict rules when it comes to setting up fencing around land, and our national parks and reserves are paying close attention to the protection of this precious species. With this in mind it is still of high concern that many of the areas where Cheetah occur suffer from lack of capacity and financial resources to support their conservation.
My aim is to create awareness by highlighting these factors through my painting. “The Winds and Waves of Change” visually explores raising environmental awareness of tourism’s impact, rising human populations, and social changes leading to ever increasing subdivision of land and subsequent habitat fragmentation. By sharing the message of this alarming situation, perhaps we can protect this beautiful big cat for many generations to come.
Ingrid Nuss is an artist residing in Wilderness. Inspired by the immense natural beauty of her surroundings. She has experimented in various styles and mediums for her own growth and progress, which resulted in her innermost expressive style “Universurrealism”.
“My work is a visual exploration of the combination of science, nature and spirituality, like the universe in which we exist… Through my work, I wish to express the space between what we perceive as reality and our inner world, where we are constantly shifting and changing on a spiritual and cosmic level.“
Jane Pitchford studied Art & Design in Cape Town and is fascinated with nature and moved deeply by it. “I lived near a lake for a while when I was growing up and my sister, dad and I spent hours exploring the reeds, fishing, paddling and figuring out all of the animals that we saw. My father was British and when he moved to South Africa felt as though he had landed in heaven, a paradise that fascinated him and he spent time explaining his new discoveries to us. I am now fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world – with so much access to abundant flora and fauna – it has helped me to revisit those experiences and has deepened my appreciation of the creatures around us.””I love the focus that drawing to a small scale has given me, similar to meditation, I get lost in the detail and it quietens my over-active mind. I spent so much time living in the UK, always wishing that I was back in the S.A. So many of the plants and animals that I have chosen to draw are ones that I missed seeing while I was there. Others have been commissioned by people with a similar passion.” A percentage from the sale of all of Jane’s originals and prints is given to Natures Valley Trust. Jane has chosen to contribute to the trust to assist them with their valuable work in the area.
I believe a transformation in human thinking is happening – a change in the way we perceive our place in the web of life. That we are part of an ecosystem – not above it – and starting to understand that we are just one species among millions of other fellow species – as another inter-dependent species – not as ‘overlord’. Transformation is happening, and the dialogues are happening. Slowly and cyclically we are growing, changing, feeling, finding new understandings…
Janet is a contemporary visual artist whose work involves raising awareness or creating support for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems.
My work is a visual story that focuses on integrating humans with giant animals in a fairytale world. Each artwork aims to represent an isolated emotion within the story.
The theme I wanted to capture is the symbiosis of man living in harmony with nature, rather than depicting an often bleak future we envision when contemplating the negative impacts we have on our environment.
I’m Jurgens Walt, illustrator, painter and storyteller.
Kali van der Merwe
Kali van der Merwe’s main artistic explorations take place in the dark, with the night as her photographic darkroom. Kali blurs boundaries between painting and photography with long exposures and a technique called ‘light painting’. Her work traverses nuanced interconnection between death and life, searching for the soul of form with light.
Kali sees herself as a visual advocate on behalf of fragile and threatened wild animals and plants.
The fate of our environment in a fragile human world.
The Agricultural Revolution could be one of the biggest mistakes in human history. Although it allowed civilizations to thrive on an individual level, human’s eternal drive to accumulate wealth has created an economic and environmental crises.
Rapid population growth and urbanization threatening the environment through expansion and intensification of industrial agriculture. Deforestation and the non-evolutionary loss of species is a calamity of unprecedented magnitude. Disappearance of wildlife and ecosystems are unimpaired by stresses from human activity. Depletion of nonrenewable resources, watershed destruction, soil degradation, overgrazing, over-fishing, pollution and harmful chemicals has reduced biological diversity and the protection of ecological integrity should be fundamental, while limiting human manipulation and control of nature.
Nico Voges has spent years working as set designer and builder for festivals and events like Afrika Burn, and is now refocusing on his own art, which includes sculptural work and drawing.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso
Quentin Horn is an artist and freelance graphic designer based in Cape Town.
For years Quentin recycled his old work notebooks. He eventually realised the pages he was discarding – which contained doodles he had idly drawn while speaking on the phone, setting up to-do lists or strategising around client briefs – held the potential for new life in the form of art.
Quentin scanned the doodles from one of his notebooks to see what could be made of them. He took the 200 A4 pages, filled with little scribbles and odd-looking faces, and compiled them into a bigger picture. He discovered that the variety of textures and densities in the individual elements, could be used as ‘brush strokes’ to create depth and definition in the bigger image. These ‘bigger doodles’ portray a host of subjects, from people and nature to just about anything that grabs Quentin’s interest.
In March 2018 Quentin exhibited ‘VULNERABLE AND ENDANGERED: Creating awareness of their plight through art’ at the Franschhoek Festival of Art at La Bri wine estate in the Western Cape of South Africa. His work exhibited as part of VERGE were from this exhibition.
As part of our little art shop section at VERGE we are selling selected pieces of Stefni Muller’s beautiful jewelery.
“Intrigue and absolute curiosity has me researching the journey of all things. I believe that everyone and everything has a story to tell, each person’s path is authentic and sacred in its own right.
I am driven by the irresistible whispers of the unknown. All things washed up, random, vintage and secondhand find their way into my studio through travel, locally and abroad. I incorporate these into my work and so have the opportunity to recreate, relive and most of all understand someone else’s walk of life.
Quality free range jewelry are one-off fine art pieces that celebrate all walks of life. Inspired by the streets, different cultures, architecture and especially nature where a limitless wonderland exists.
Through my work I hope to inspire you to discover who you are and to ultimately follow your heart.”