Featured: Urban Life in Ink on Wood by Audrey Anderson

Running on Empty 1

Running on Empty 

 

Audrey Anderson is an emerging South African talent who lives in Johannesburg. She finds the city intriguing, overwhelming, liberating and inspiring and her introspective expression of this experience through her artworks provides an utterly urban, yet notably gentle new take on Jozi. Audrey works predominantly with ink and wood and has just exhibited her most recent body of work ‘Running on Empty’ at Gallery 2  and at the Turbine Art Fair. We catch up with her on city pace versus internal perspective and on her gradual personal discovery of the Joburg CBD and how it has allowed her the freedom to choose a direction and destination.

 

Small Business Perspective

‘Small Business Perspective’ 81 x 101cm. The artwork is on exhibition at Nando’s in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.

 

You’re still relatively new to Johannesburg and as an artist it seems only natural that you process and express your experience of living in this city through your artworks. You’re also challenging people to think about how they experience the city and how a change of view could change that perspective. Tell us a little more about that.

 

Jo’burg has a frenzied pace about it. People move around the city constantly, earning money, spending money, solving problems and creating problems. People in Jo’burg come from everywhere, either out of necessity or to seek their fortune. Many are lured by the hope for success and wealth, however seeking success comes at a personal cost. We push ourselves hard to keep pace with the city, but as a consequence we end up missing what is right in front of us. A simple change in pace can change how we understand our context. 

 

You say you find your inspiration in “listening to Johannesburg”. Can you tell us where you listen, what you ‘hear’ and how you express your experiences?

 

The subject of my work is mined out of conversations, roof tops, walks, windows, reflections, chance encounters with random traces left behind by humans, movement and the constant development encountered in daily Johannesburg city life. I juxtapose the individual with the Johannesburg cityscape, working directly from the familiar to develop my understanding of the urban spaces here. The layers in my work, much like window reflections, speak of an introspective way of experiencing the city. Combining reflection and fragments of the city in my work provides an internal perspective of an external situation. The fragmented reflections suggest my gradual discovery of the city and the cityscape gains a personal element through human encounters, conversations and shared experiences. Working with personal narratives in my chosen mediums I reveal binary moments of stillness and constant fluctuation in each frame. I hope the viewer can interact with the work from the position of an observer looking through windows as a story unfolds and reflects back.

 

What are the common elements in your latest body of work?

 

It speaks about discovery and re-discovery, and the constant change and re-appropriation that is always with us in Johannesburg. The dust in the air here becomes part of us as we breath in the daily construction and deconstruction of the city. Living here, we are also inseparably physically and emotionally linked to the city of Johannesburg…my artworks ask people to reflect on and remember that. Visually the works reinforce each other through the repetition of familiar shapes, colours and figures.

 

Your work has an architectural element. That’s quite handy both in terms of creating an urban vibe and giving the viewer an angle into, or perspective on, the city. Where does this come from – have you previously studied architecture?

 

No, I didn’t study architecture. I think the reason for being drawn to urban vibes and city perspectives is that I’ve always been intrigued and overwhelmed in these spaces. It’s amazing just to think of the sheer volume of people per square meter horizontally and vertically. As a teenager I spent most of my time commuting, exploring and making friends in a city space. The city was the place where I first felt a feeling of true liberation. The CBD space allowed me the freedom to choose a direction and destination, and the possibilities where endless. That’s why I love it and why I draw so much inspiration from it.

 

Your working primarily with ink on wood at the moment. Why do these attract you?

 

Ink is not limiting, I get to draw and paint at the same time with ink. It allows mark-making possibilities the enable me to illustrate rather than replicate. With ink I get to express a story instead of recording or documenting. Wood already has a story and unlike paper or canvas it’s not hiding it away. Wood shows it’s growth process of how it came to be honestly and without disguise.

 

You have work in the Nando’s Art Collection displayed in South Africa, Australia and Malaysia. What role has the Nando’s Art Initiative played in your career as an emerging artist?

 

If it weren’t for Nando’s Art Initiative, my art career would be very, very difficult. The Nando’s Art Initiative has rocketed me forwards. I’m able to work as a full time artist with a studio, my art gets great media and public space exposure and I get regular development feedback visitations. I’ve even started working with Everard Read Gallery because of Nando’s. The Nando’s Art Initiative has given me time and space to develop my artworks and that’s a really valuable gift. The initiative is about more than just buying artworks for their collection; they want South African Arts to grow and be seen on an international stage. Reflecting South African pride through art? That’s just awesome. What I like the most about the initiative, is that its a supportive relationship, they want to know what I’m doing and who I am as an artist. Their support has given me the time and space to grow as an artist.

 

You’ve very recently exhibited at the Turbine Art Fair and at Gallery 2. Is it too soon to ask what you’re currently working on and what we should look out for next?

 

Yes, I’ve always got a next thing lined up! Next I’m doing some illustration/doodles at Oppikoppi. How it works is instead of just having photographers documenting the event they have some artists walking around drawing it too. Very exciting! I did it last year and working with the Oppikoppi organizers/team was really great. It’s also an extreme place to draw and I have to forget about trying to keep paper clean. After that I’ll be doing a Drawingrooms exhibition with City Soiree  in Cape Town, and I’m also looking forward to that.

 

See more of Audrey’s work at audreyanderson.co.za.

More about the Nando’s Art Initiative.

 

Running on Empty 7

Running on Empty

Running on Empty

Running on Empty

Running on Empty 

Running on Empty

Running on Empty 

Running on Empty

Running on Empty 

Running on Empty

Running on Empty 

Running on Empty

Running on Empty 

Running on Empty

Running on Empty 

Running on empty

Running on Empty 

Here

‘Here’, 2015, 76 x 120cm. The artwork is on exhibition at Nando’s Clarence Street in Sydney, Australia.

SuspendReason

‘SuspendReason’, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 120x170cm. The artwork is on exhibition at Nando’s Brown Street in Nelspruit.

Forgot Something

‘Forgot Something’, 2014, 120 x 91cm. The artwork is on exhibition at Nando’s Central Kitchen in Johannesburg.

 

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