“My garden is slow work, pursued by love.” — Claude Monet
My garden serves as my inspiration and my artwork therefore demonstrates an intimate relationship between my experience of gardening and my thoughts.
This art not only focuses on the shape of plants, but displays my savouring of the course of nature: its ability to adapt, be fertile and bear fruit – a process similar to my own experience of motherhood.
The symbolic connection between motherhood and plants is seen most explicitly in their life-giving and extending properties. Since ropes were used to extend the shelf life of food, Juan Sánchez Cotán’s 17th century bodegon still life paintings of fruit and vegetables hanging from ropes serve as inspiration to many of my works.
The drive towards preserving life is not only physical but also emotional. The ropes in my works therefore depict the emotional bondage often found relationships (see Bittersoet, Persephone en Verbode, and also Heilige). These bonds are not always healing or life-sustaining ones as is seen in Japanese culture where the rope is also used as an imprisonment technique. Stagnation, deterioration and death are therefore also linked to ropes and their phantoms.The shadow in Heilige is thus inspired by the illness of the plant which causes the plant to turn into a skeleton and become unable to bear fruit. The prickly pear in this painting is an ominous and phallic symbol, similarly depicted in TS Eliot’s Hollow Men.
Poetry often deals with subjects like death, decomposition and emotional barrenness. For example, the parched gooseberry in Ingrid Jonker’s poem, Jy’t my gekierang, symbolises her parched heart. In my own Kierang the cycle of the skeletons of gooseberries is depicted with only one rounded berry.
The works in my Cycle-exhibition are inspired by nature’s dormancy, the time in which the branches in my garden are barren and pruning is necessary for new growth. This suggests that despite the dry aridness of mortality, the death of plants is a necessary phase in the cyclic blooming of new life.