South African Design Industry Mourns Carrol Boyes

by Rose McClement

Some news you just don’t expect to hear, something like a curveball coming your way. It takes your breath away and leaves you wondering “WHAT just happened?!” That is how I felt yesterday afternoon when Marica sent me a message telling of the passing of one of South Africa’s great design creative legends, Carrol Boyes.

Mourning her passing today feels much akin to two other instances we have had to say goodbye to SA legends – Nelson Mandela and, more recently, Johnny Clegg. Carrol Boyes is such a household name, not only in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa but also globally. Her incredibly ingenious brand of decorative, yet functional homeware is instantly recognizable – the perfect fusion between art and function.

In the official announcement posted on the Carrol Boyes Facebook page yesterday, the company shared the following beautiful tribute:

Carrol enriched many lives in multiple ways. She instilled an unconventional approach to business and her message to her staff was ‘I have had such fun with you and you have enriched my life greatly. Please remember that we do things differently here. Never be ordinary – be extraordinary and throw in a bit of naughtiness every now and then and keep laughing. Never lose your sense of humour.

Carrol will be remembered for her love, her story and her quirky creativity. Carrol leaves our nation with a legacy of excellence, unity, empowerment and pioneering functional art. She will be greatly missed.

Instead of going into detail about her history or legendary work, I’ll rather leave you with the video shared above. I feel that the video, in which Carrol speaks of herself, her work, and her business, says more than I can hope to bring across.

We as a Cape Town / South African interior design company and blog would like to use this opportunity to pay tribute to her and her celebrated designs and product. I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever, that her legend will live on vibrantly through her creative brand as they continue to produce iconic works of functional art well into the future.

Our thoughts are with her family, loved ones, friends, her community, her employees, and anyone who mourns Carrol’s passing. Warmest condolences to them.

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Andrew James Hofmeyr - Artist Illustrator

Creative SA: Andrew James Hofmeyr

by Marica

VISI recently shared a post on their website that piqued our interest. Printing and photography studio ORMS launched their own boutique range of wallpapers.

For this limited-edition collection, ORMS collaborated with 16 local creatives – South African artists, illustrators and designers – to create a lovely selection of unique and show-stopping wallpaper designs.

One of the motivating factors behind the launch of this exclusive range is that ORMS believe their clients are looking for individual designs with local flavour rather than the generic image spread offered by stock libraries.  “We get a lot of requests for custom-printed wallpaper designs, as our customers are wanting something unique for their homes and businesses,” says Leanne Barling, Head of Décor Printing at ORMS.

Andrew James Hofmeyr - Artist Illustrator

The artists involved in the collaboration are Ahimsa Ali, Aimee Hall, Andrea Brand, Andrew Hofmeyr, ARK Paper Studio, Cecile Nowars, Fleur Le Cordeur, Frances White, Gany Beyers, Liffey Joy, Katie Lund, Lisa Strachan, Maria Baumann, Mariette Kotze, Nicole Carr and Si Maclennan.

While all the wallpaper designs are absolutely lovely, the work of one artist, in particular, jumped out at us. It was the playful, quirky and utterly whimsical designs of artist and illustrator Andrew James Hofmeyr.Read More »

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

Creative SA: Miche Watkins

Last year we introduced a new blog series, Creative SA. In this series we will regularly feature South African makers.

by Rose McClement

In the spirit of moving forward with this series, I would like to introduce you to another South African artist, Miche Watkins.  Miche and I met online – how that came about I just simply can’t remember.  But you know the story, if you knock around a few online portals long and often enough, you find one another.

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

Since that first time a few years ago we have kept pace with each other via Facebook largely, until Miche visited Cape Town last year, when we had the opportunity of catching up eyeball to eyeball. Although Miche relocated to the UK a few years ago to be close to her family, she lived in Cape Town for a long time. That I think was the glue that formed the bond early in our friendship, the fact that I used to post images of beautiful Mother City and she would respond with great yearning.

I’m not much of an art “knower” or a “knower of art”, but this I do know about myself… I know what art appeals to me. Over the past few years I have exposed myself to more and more artists and in doing so I have come to understand that which appeals to me and that which just goes over my head.

The question then is what is it that appeals to me about the body of work that Miche brings to the world?  It is her particular style of Pop Art-ish line drawings – she only introduces a hint of red or colour that I am simply taken with.  They are funky, contemporary, youthful and more often than not, faceless images.

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

As a decorator finding something that is appealing yet not specific in terms of its image, is a very big draw. Her art can be installed into offices, hotels and residences alike – any space that can indulge a bit of contemporary funk. I see Miche’s art hanging on the walls of some trendy millennial’s apartment or in the room of an edgy teen.

She has recently introduced another element into these clean lined paintings – that of Street Art.  It’s the combination of the street art and line drawings that work for me. Take a look for yourself and you decide if this art appeals to you or not.

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

In closing let me add that I have great admiration for artists who put out their work for the public to scrutinise – possibly appreciate, or possibly criticise.  They are such a brave crowd of creatives. Plus having to market their work in an already overcrowded arena and run it like a business – that takes extra commitment to the cause.

Futher, I know that Miche puts her heart and soul into her paintings as well as her business.  Hats off to her!

Creative SA: Artist Miche Watkins

Her work can be seen and purchased on the online art portal, State of the Art, as well as the bricks and mortar State of The Art Gallery in Bree Street, Cape Town – the heart of our buzzing city.

You can also follow Miche on FacebookInstagramTwitter.
Creative SA: Leila Fanner - Artist

Creative SA: Leila Fanner

Earlier in the month we introduced our new blog series, Creative SA. In this series we will regularly feature South African makers.

For our third installment of the Creative SA series, we will be sharing the beautiful artworks of Leila Fanner with you.

Leila is a painter, illustrator and surface pattern designer who works from her studio in the small town of Riebeek West.

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Similar to Nicole & The Striped Flamingo, the SA creative we shared with you in our previous post, Leila has had her own part in Design Monarchy’s brand evolution. In fact, it is Leila who designed our beautiful company logo in 2012.

Since we first interviewed her four years ago, Leila has placed greater focus on her fine art works – spending much time with paint brush in hand.

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The elements that Rose and I most adore about Leila’s paintings are her bold use of vivid colours in combination with intricate pattern and detail. Her artworks often have a whimsical yet edgy feminine quality with a slight mystical feel.

Leila’s works, while rich in South African flavour, are completely unique. Her striking paintings feature a fresh interpretation on the local imagery and frequently feature South African fauna and flora. Leila also has the rare and remarkable ability to incorporate African elements into her paintings and designs without the usual “Greenmarket Square cheese”.

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Leila will be taking part in the “Summertide” group exhibition this Sunday the 4th of December at The Gallery in Riebeek Kasteel.  Also be sure to check out Leila’s Facebook page as she is currently having a studio sale.

We are also very excited to announce that Leila has gifted us with some of her goreous printed product to dole out as give-away prizes to some of our lucky blog readers. We will be posting all the give-away competition details tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled.

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Want to see more of Leila’s gorgeous artwork? Pop over to her website. Our international friends can purchase her prints and products on Society6.

You can also follow Leila Fanner on FacebookInstagramTwitter.

Q&A With Artist Miche Watkins

Miche WatkinsQ: To kick off, tell us a little about yourself and your family:

I am a figurative artist painting in oils with an emphasis on portraiture. I lived in Cape Town for five years but have recently relocated back to Bristol, UK where my family is based. I have three grown up children, Megan, Tom and Joe who all live in England. None of them an artist!

On coming to Cape Town 6 years ago I struggled to start again artistically as of course no one knew my work. I had a very supportive partner, but did not know many people to bounce ideas off for my portraiture. For this reason, I developed my “Line Art” acrylic paintings which were the complete opposite of figurative oil paintings – no facial features at all! These paintings were fun, contemporary and affordable and struck a chord with South Africans who seemed to like this work.

Q: How long have you been painting?  What was the process and the tipping point that took you to the place of being a professional artist?

I have drawn and painted all my life. When I was a child I was forever drawing princesses (never princes for some reason).  I began my formal art training after my youngest child started school but owing to personal reasons had to give up my art degree and find paid employment to pay my bills.  I remember my solicitor’s words very clearly: “I see your future Miche, and it is very dreary…” However, this never stopped me painting. I started painting portraits and through word of mouth got commissions.

Q: How would you best describe your art style/genre and what is your preferred medium?

My art style is figurative as always. I am veering away from straight portraiture towards figurative paintings that have a narrative theme and there nearly always seems to be an element of isolation and loneliness in these paintings. I began with charcoal, progressed to pastels and now my real love is oil painting – I love the smell of turps!

Q: How or where are you likely to find inspiration?

I am inspired by artists like Aldo Balding, who I met at the Christopher Moller Gallery last year, such an unassuming and all round good bloke! Edward Hopper is certainly an influence and I am drawn to artists such as Jack Vettriano and Caravaggio because of the light and dark shadows they use in their work.  I find exaggerating the lights and darks in my paintings makes for a far more interesting piece of work at the end of the day.

Q: You are living and working in Bristol currently. What is your take and experience as an artist of that city?

I am extremely happy in Bristol which is a young and vibrant city with so many artists actually making a living – something I found difficult in Cape Town, being an unknown English incomer.

I am also now teaching life drawing here in Bristol (something I have done in the past) and with the city’s lively and buzzy artistic community this class goes from strength to strength. I am hoping to organise an exhibition of the students’ work in May because I want them to gain confidence in their work, and seeing someone buy your work is the best way to improve self-confidence!

Q: Where do you exhibit / sell your work?

When in Cape Town I sold work through the Lisa King Gallery, Art on The Bay in Camps Bay and of course through StateoftheART.co.za (Jennifer has always been a big support to me).  Here in England I exhibit with the SBA, The Southbank Bristol Arts Trail in May, and am now part of Colin Neville Contemporary Art. I am also exhibiting with Art Extra in Devon at the end of June which is supporting HospiceCare and 25 artists have been invited to exhibit – exciting times for me.

I sell prints of my work through Fine Art America and workART.  I also do a lot of marketing (which I absolutely hate, loathe and despise doing having an artist’s brain) through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – and of course my website. I have to say, however, that this side of marketing does work! The rest is word of mouth.

Q: Do you see yourself returning to Cape Town or SA for that matter on a permanent basis?

I don’t see myself returning permanently to Cape Town as my home is here with my family nearby. But I do miss the warmth of that lovely city and my many friends there. I would hope to revisit many times though, and the world is indeed a smaller place with the Internet, and Skype.

Q: If you found yourself stranded on that proverbial desert island, who and what would you like to have there with you?

Ah, the desert island… I would like to have my Bible there please. I found God finally when I came to South Africa and I would need that daily connection with Him to keep me grounded. I know now my artistic talent comes from Him, so I would ask Him to please direct me to some paintbrushes and paints in the jungle. AND I would want my nearest and dearest with me…

{Images via Miche Watkins}

Touching Painting of An Elderly Couple Dancing by Fine Artist, Gavin Collins

The Road To Greatness

“We have featured the works of Gavin Collins in the past (I am one of Gavin’s loyal fans).  He was the artist commissioned to paint the artwork for our one Irish hotel project.  At the time of the art installation, Gavin joined us in Ireland. Since we shared digs together, many a late night was spent talking into the wee hours of the morning over a few glasses of whiskey.  The net result – I got to know a little bit about Gavin, who is so unbelievably passionate about his art.
 
There being so much depth to Gavin, prompted me to ask him to come on board and write a guest post for us. In his article below, he opens up an issue that hounds most professionals, no matter what your field, myself included.
 
Introducing, (long drum roll and announcement made in that singsong voice!) Mr. Gavin Collins…”

Painting of Lower Main Road Salt River by Fine Artist, Gavin Collins.

 By Gavin Collins

Become an Artist, Interior Designer or Decorator in 6 weeks with this easy to understand course – RUBBISH!

You see this type of thing all the time and some people really believe that they can become good at something within a short period.  Ask yourself, who you know who is great at what he does and has not been doing it for more than 10 years. No designer, no decorator and no artist.  Most successful artists have been painting all their lives.

So you want to be an artist, you go out, you buy yourself some canvas, you print some business cards with your name in a nice artistic script with “Fine Artist” underneath it.  You start painting.  Clearly, things don’t go as well as you expected. The immediate most common route thereafter – you change your business card, which now reads like this: your name and “Abstract Artist” underneath it.  At this point after not selling a single painting, or maybe one or two to your great Aunt, you decide to try your hand at interior decorating.  Now your re-decorate your sister’s house free of charge, leading once again to a change of the business card details.

Once again – RUBBISH!!

Here is how it really works. 

Painting of Voilinist by Fine Artist, Gavin Collins.

Something ignites a tiny flame inside you and points you in a direction.  You start looking in that direction. You start yearning to understand it. You start reading and you start doing.  The desire gets stronger, the drive takes over and you don’t stop doing.  Nothing else matters, the lack in sales is a non-issue. You don’t need clients – you just love doing it.

 Then one day you begin to realize that if you had an ounce of talent when you started out , 6 or 7 years down the line, you begin realize you that can almost do this thing.  Clients find you, finances come and the drive gets even stronger.  That is how long it truly takes. Tiger Woods started playing golf when he was 4 years old.  It has taken him a lifetime to become great at it. It is no different for anyone you can think of who is great in their profession.  Imagine this- undergoing an operation by a person who decided to become a surgeon last week.  There is very little difference – he does or he doesn’t know what the hell he is doing.

I remember the day I decided to become an artist.  The smell of oil paint was the ignition. I remember painting through the night and then sleeping on my school desk in the day. I remember painting on every bed sheet my mother owned until I had to sleep on a mattress. I remember painting before eating, before drinking. It consumed me and still does to this day. There is no place in the world that I would rather be than standing behind an easel. It has been 26 years now and I finally understand what I am doing. I recently looked back at some of my earlier work done in the first few years as an artist (or my delusion of being an artist at the time) only to realize now, that I clearly knew very little at the time. I also realize that there is not enough time left to learn all I want to learn about art.

The most common question asked when someone stands in front of my work is, how long does it take to paint a piece.  It is difficult to answer without getting annoyed because it took a lifetime.  What I would call a Master Series Painting now takes me only hours to complete because of years of understanding what paint does.  Every brush stroke is now exact and intentional, whereas in the beginning it was hit and miss.

Touching Painting of An Elderly Couple Dancing by Fine Artist, Gavin Collins

It takes desire, it takes drive, and it takes hours and hours and hours of practice.

“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master.  For this reason, mastery demands all of a person” – Albert Einstei

So, to consistently create great sellable artworks and note I said consistently, give yourself 6 years at least before you print your business cards.  This goes for pretty much any profession that takes skill of the hand or eye.

There is no protection left in the world for the unknowing consumer.  Gone are the days when an artisan had to do a long apprenticeship under a Master or a designer had to belong to a Designer’s Guild. Your decorator may be able to wing a conversation on the latest colour trends but can he/she measure your curtains?

In conclusion, let me leave you with this thought – the next time you hire a surgeon, decorator, interior designer or artist, consider whether they have all it takes to do the job consistently well.

Beautiful Abstract Painting By Fine Artist, Gavin Collins.

P.S.  This is my very first blog, so if is not done well wait 6 or 7 years…