Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bronwen Findlay and Merle Payne of Barok - 1

Today I will be looking at two of the images on display at the moment in the 3000hours exhibition and giving a little background on the respective artists Merle Payne and Bronwen Findlay.
Bronwen Findlay is a well known South African artist, a painter and printmaker. She has been exhibiting frequently since 1977 and has been involved in many community upliftment workshops and projects. Although she does not wish to be exclusively defined as a feminist or female artist, much of her work is concerned with ‘the female domain’ and she seeks to challenge its status on the hierarchy of fine art practice. However paint as paint, the manipulation and interaction with it as a physical substance, is far more important to her process.
In the detail featured below we can see the delight she takes is slathering on paint freely and freshly, allowing it to have its own existence on the canvas beyond the function of representation. Texture has an all-important function in her work, inspired as it often is, by textiles.

For more information on her work see her website at the link below.

Merle Payne has been involved in many creative ventures, helping to blur the line between art and craft. For 20 years she created ‘vintage’ costumes for her company Pearls – creations so expertly made one could not tell they weren’t antiques. After working for a brief period in set-design for movies, she opened up her business incredibly successful business, Barok. Barok consists of Payne and four women from the local community of Magoebaskloof, the farm where Payne grew up. They started out making skirts end have branched out to wall panels, bags and cushion covers. All of Payne’s works on display in 3000hours are Barok products.
Shown below is one of my favourite of her wall panels.

This wonderful piece shows her quirky sense of design and sense of irony. The images of a lion and two crocodiles, both typically South African tourist images, are combined amusingly with two strange horned, humanoid creatures, who are involved in what seems to be (due to the arrows) an extremely animated conversation or perhaps a dance. A white aeroplane flying across the sky and the jaunty ‘100% local’ slogan contribute to an amusing and offbeat take on made-for-tourist products.
For an extremely interesting article on Merle Payne and Barok, featured in Dossier Magazine, click on the link below.

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