Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bronwen Findlay and Merle Payne of Barok & Nic Bladen

The first of today’s images by Bronwen Findlay is a particularly beautiful painting.  

A patchwork arrangement of textiles forms an under layer, creating an interestingly pleated and rippled surface for the paint. The paint creates a glowing façade over the fabric, sometimes enhancing the patterns below, sometimes obliterating them completely. The colours are rich and glowing offset by a deep pastel background and her use of paint is luxurious and free, echoing the organic nature of the subject matter and setting it lose from the stiff representations of the fabric design.
In the little painting below we can see an interesting technique she has developed in which she actually encases plant matter in paint.  

The oil paint keeps out air and moisture thus preserving the form of the beautiful spray of twigs and leaves. There is something both marvelous and vaguely disturbing in this piece of life smothered in paint. The vivid but translucent yellow of this particular piece is an apt choice in that it allows the natural colour variations of the plant to shine through to some extent, adding an extra depth to the subtle variation of tones.
This almost heirloom-inspired preservation of natural matter reminds me of the work of sculptor and jeweler Nic Bladen whose work is also featured in the Kalk Bay Modern. Bladen casts the most delicate fynbos flowers, leaves and pods in silver, creating a perfect preservation of these forms. Not only does their value lie in their exquisite beauty but also in their historical, botanical and environmental significance as records.
To see his beautiful website click on the link below.

The Barok bag seen below is a cheerful little piece that contrasts tartan, camouflage print, bright frilly trim and two ribboned medals. It is a particularly good example of Merle Payne’s technique of combining unusual materials to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Although there are four women besides Merle who are employed at Barok, she is responsible for the design of each and every item.

Her maxim though is “Many hands make a lot of work” with the result that previously unemployed rural women can now become financially independent and empowered and though their workshop is still small they are expanding slowly.

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