Cape Town-based artist and beekeeper Anna van der Ploeg’s multi-disciplinary approach to art is telling of her artistic excellence. She exhibited her second solo show, Growing to Another Sun, last month at the SMITH Studio. This collection included oil painting mono-types, carved wooden blocks and sculpture.
Her first solo show, Arc and Toll exhibited in 2016 and she continues to be part of group shows at the gallery. She has also participated in Artist in Residence programs in Japan, France and India.
As a beekeeper herself, Anna makes the fictional character of a beekeeper central to the stories she tells. Similar to her first solo show, the fictional beekeeper is present as a protagonist in Growing to Another Sun.
“Beekeeping has a symbolic and ritualistic quality that appeals to me. It’s a synecdoche in a box – a microcosm of our world in some ways yet it is easy to study and understand. There are so many parallels to society. And then there is the language around it. The word “keeper” is particularly telling and speaks to the role,” she explains.
For Anna, inspirations comes from other artists, including her own creative friends. “I guess there are different types of influences. My friends are a huge source of inspiration. My studio mates Daniella Mooney, Sebastian Borckenhagen, Bronwyn Katz and other members of iQhiya were in or around my year at Michaelis and are totally balling. I admire artists working in public intervention or installation – this really sunk in while travelling, when you’ve walked too far, are over-saturated with museums and exist entirely in public space,” she says.
“The figures are ambiguous and androgynous. If this collection was a story I’ve focused more on plot than character. More “what are these people doing?” than “who are they?” for now. It’s about the intention and what is going on between these two characters and how power goes back and forth between them as they navigate through the scenes.”
Beware the pedestal
Great imaginary walls
Woke bro family jewels
Wrong side of history
The silent treatment
Every high ideal