Yesterday evening was the opening of a sumptuous new exhibition at the Kalk Bay Modern. It featured the elaborately embroidered textiles of Merle Payne and the rich, colourful textile-inspired paintings of Bronwen Findlay. Entitled 3000 hours, the name refers to the approximate number of hours it took to make the work on display, including the labour of the four women Merle Payne hires for her (very inspirational) company Barok.
The show really was a visual feast of textures, colours and juxtapositions. A feature shared by both artist’s work is an incredibly tempting tactile quality – at one point I really had to fight myself not to run my fingers over some glowingly vermillion, amazingly three-dimensional flowers on one of Bronwen Findlay’s paintings! In fact I must admit that when I happened to be fairly far from anyone else (a rather difficult feat for the gallery was very lively) I did ever so gently give one of them a stroke!
The juxtaposition of Payne and Findlay’s work is extremely successful and wonderfully suited, I think, to the environment of the Kalk Bay Modern, a gallery that is refreshingly devoid of any ‘white-cube’ tendencies. Both artists are inspired by traditionally female creative outlets – textiles, embellishment, and colour for beauty’s sake. The rich abundance of their work is off-set by the beautiful collection of art, craft, jewelry and pottery hosted by the gallery – they create a wonderfully authentic setting for art that is meant to be lived with and loved – not coldly observed and contemplated.
Merle Payne’s work is inspired by the rich culture of textiles in and around South Africa. The works on display in 3000 hours include her wonderfully successful Barok bags and wall hangings. Each work is painstakingly embroidered and embellished creating an extremely desirable one off piece that (in the case of the bags) is a wearable piece of art. She utilizes slogans that are often funny or ironic whilst retaining a sweetness that is charmingly innocent and zany. In particular I have my eye on a bag on which the appliquéd image of a slinky leopard sits below the words ‘The Lord is My Sheppard and I am His Leopard’.
Also featured are the textiles of Yda Walt, Veldt, the Ekoka San community project (more about that soon), Sway, Fabric Nation, and the Keiskamma Art Project. The Kalk Bay Modern is a strong supporter of local crafters and upliftment programmes.
More about these exciting artists and works soon!