Blue Quartet. Acrylic on board
As we hand select the artists we would like to appear we do also allow our clients to capitalise on this opportunity and use ‘As Seen in The World of Interiors’ for their branding and promotions. I know this can be really helpful as are readers instantly recognise it as a badge of recommendation when they come across it online.
September issue; The world of Interiors
Jill strokes the brightly coloured tablecloth, gazing at nothing in particular. Deep blue paint is lodged under her chipped finger nails.
A weaver by trade, a painter at heart, Jill Trappler has been working in Cape Town as a visual artist and teacher for the past thirty five years.
“The one feeds into the other,” she says of weaving and painting, “it’s about colour, what do you do with colour. I want to make colour sing,” she exclaims.
Jill drew an illustration for a story about a young woman from Gugulethu named Sibongile Sam as part of a book about the youth in Cape Town that documents the stories of remarkable young people in South Africa. It will be published in June.
“The story is of a young girl and it’s in a way quite a common story, where the father is dysfunctional and becomes violent. She objected to his violence and the way he traumatised her mother and her sister, and they eventually had to move out and it seems at the end of the story as though they’ve completely lost touch with the father.”
Jill readjusts the lid of the colourful teapot in front of us on the table.
“I, I struggle with stories like that because they are so, they are all over our country.”
She speaks about illustrating Sibongile’s story: “I drew the tree of life, and I drew the ribbon of hope, and I drew a well because women are the rock,” she says, swirling her hand and fingers before tightening them.
“I wanted her to have a sense of deep future, that it comes from a long history of people being traumatised, and it will, we’ll carry these things for a long time, but as an individual you can stand up and be quite beautiful and feminine and carry the caring and the nurturing aspect in oneself.”
Jill says she looks at the world through abstract lenses. “That is definitely the way I see things, non-figuratively, or so-called abstract, which is just a different way of making images. I think it’s just my eye.”
Visual literacy is something Jill says is very important to her. “I don’t really like, um, images that are didactic, that tell me how to think, I want to engage with an image. It’s those lower frequencies that speak into your bones almost, that’s where I’d like to work.”
Jill leads the way to her studio, gliding through the living room and up the stairs. Frame upon frame, colourful canvas upon colourful canvas stacked against the walls. Tubes and pots of acrylic paint and paintbrushes of varying thickness lie scattered all over her work table.
A door on the opposite side of the studio leads out onto a balcony that overlooks the city. “The light streams in here at sunrise, so I just wait for it. The light changes as the sun moves across the sky, it throws different patterns across the studio.”
According to Jill, painting can and should be cathartic, it should facilitate growth. “That’s for me what a painting can do, it can connect with you on a different level and enhance your life. It takes you further, it makes you a bigger person.”
Her experience as a weaver has informed her painting and given it what she says is very deep textural elements that somehow surface.
“I learned this from a woman in Zululand, she’s a very famous weaver in KwaZulu-Natal who my father made a very big loom for. She had a little house and before she started on a new tapestry she spent the night in her little house and she said that her spirit went to find patterns and colours. And then in the morning she’d wake up and go into her studio and she knew what to make. And I think that affected my painting, because I just go and paint and I talk to my painting and it tells me, I kind of know where I’m going.”
Jill is also a teacher, but not in the conventional sense of the word. “I think it’s an interactive thing, it’s about exchanging ideas and skills. It’s definitely not about being a teacher in the normal way where a teacher has something to tell a student. So I always try and work on a flat structure, so I learn as much as I teach.”
There is a strong element of spirituality in her life that she says she shares with her family.
“It’s so important to keep that balance and very fortunately my family are very aware of the reverence in life, with life, to life and so that sense of reverence is our spiritual… it doesn’t have a name, don’t give it a hook.” – Aidan Jones
Sorrel Hofmann at Irma Stern museum, February 2017.
Instead of geographical images on the pages in an Atlas, we have an Atlas of images filling the gallery. In both we experience the vastness and language that is not familiar; we find a word or a river, a point of location to start our journey. In the art works the abundance of information is refined into shapes, picture planes and surfaces touched by narrative. Informed by experiences, the work becomes the reality of the artist. Reality challenges preconceptions and opens us to journey with another, freely. Then “we will be what we are”, located at the beginning of a visual journey, Atlas surrounding us.
Beside the tactile facture there appears to be a “matter of factness” about the artist’s approach to her work. This is of the nature of a person with a divining stick in their hands. She wonders until the quivering starts and the divining stick vibrates with the subterranean streams. Or of a person who stands with a telescope and views the length of the desert, moves up to the horizon and across the sky, day or night, new moon or full moon. We are asked to zoom in, pull visual information closer in order to then “be what we are”.
This is the first solo show of work by Sorrel Hoffman. On her website, she writes;
“we will be what we are until we are no more.”
Navigating this exhibition suggests that we could reword this and say; we are no more, until we will be what we are.
The geography is expansive and overwhelming, the connection when it is made is specific and intimate. (Large shapes describe spaces and marks gathered hastily give definition; they seem to say, be here, on this surface.) Shapes give us direction and make places; we can say, “we will be what we are until we are no more” because the making of the image has begun and the shapes find their way into the shape of the format and tell a story, the story of why it is being made. It is a purposeful journey story of wanting to share with us and show us geographical situations.
The “matter of factness” that is apparent initially, changes to urgency; (the divining stick vibrates and we need to dig for water) Yet there is a slowness and deliberation in just how to relate the shapes to one another. There is not much overlaying, the shape is placed once, the line is drawn and left. Something is added or not. The images are built with an elegance and they are not about a particular thing or object. These references, these markers are skeletons for us to explore, stop, wait and resume our wandering. There are objects and the spaces between become places for the eye to glean and travel. Time is measured and temporal, directions unspecific.
Shapes describe place. The place in the shape of the format, a place within the shape, a shape within a place. Landscape.
The sense of happenstance is inverted by that of reality; in some of the images we are taken into the distance, (over stretches of earth, around places/objects, towards a mountain, over the horizon…) or we journey as if on the face of a compass, or we are directed left to right, bottom to top, top to bottom. There are no short cuts. The artist has been there, witnessed the place physically or through a lens. Her eye has been there and she leads us in this body of work to journey with her.
John Berger writes about “the shape of a pocket”; this is about a small pocket of resistance, resistance against inhumanity. In Atlas, this exhibition of collages, drawings, mixed media, prints and installation, we are presented with little pockets of information. They speak of the need for humans to respect the wonders of our world. The earth and especially the deserts, the clear skies, the shadows; the mysteries this all holds are shown to be so very precious. “we will be what we are until we are no more.”
The world in these images, is not empty but magnificently full, vibrating with a skeletal significance that we are encouraged to quiver with and absorb. We are asked to resist any interference or indignities that humans are possible of imposing.
These images describe Sorrel’s reality, her way of resisting the preconceived notions of the world. One of her fellow students in a drawing class observed that Sorrell “encourage us to be faithful to our way of seeing”.
Indeed, she is practising what she encourages in others and suggesting, gently what we too can shape up to, “until we are no more.”
Monday morning sessions at Ruth Prowse school start on the 6th of February and continue through to 10th April 2017. (no class on the 20th March)
Please see details about the sessions in the 2016 information.