Photo by Neil Roberts Mayne
Laura Windvogel is a visual artist who works under the pseudonym of Lady Skollie and, if you’re familiar with that name, you’ll likely think of cheeky watercolour paintings and zines filled with relationship-centric accounts and confessions that are charming, surprising and often comedic in their candour. As an alter ego, Lady Skollie brings the two divergent aspects of Laura’s personality together and channels them into a single artistic expression that revolves around the themes of gender roles, sex, greed and lust. Her upcoming solo exhibition of new work, Ask for What You Want emphasises the importance of familiarizing yourself with your own desire. Ahead of the opening we caught up with Laura for our Young South Africa series to chat about her confrontational art and unflinching honesty.
Did you grow up in a creative environment or one where creativity was actively encouraged?
My mother always placed great emphasis on the fact that if it had not been for the constricting rule of Apartheid, she would have pursued a creative career. Thus she expected my sister and me to participate in as many extracurricular activities as possible. We both sang in the choir, did literature recitals, entered and won creative competitions. Later on, my sister narrowed her playing field to classical singing and I chose the visual arts.
Your work addresses important issues without taking itself too seriously. Is this a deliberate part of your approach?
Humour makes most things more bearable.
At what stage of your process do you attach a concept to your pieces – before, after, or somewhere along the way?
My process varies. Sometimes, in hindsight, I realize I was telling myself very important things.
All of this sounds really enticing. But, logistically it never makes sense. Theoretically, I’m chilled. Practically…not so much / Crayon and watercolour on Fabriano, 2015
Expulsion from Paradise / Watercolour and gold ink on paper, 2014
Why is art such a vital communicative tool in our times?
We’re living in a digital age and being satisfied instantly requires a lot of visual intrigue. Art is that feeling when you wade through digital content for hours, which most of us do, but feel the need to revisit certain images. The ones that don’t get lost in the scrolling, and make you pause. That’s art, in these times. So that’s how we’re connected; art and technology.
Do you view art as a form of protest? What power does it have to evoke change?
I think in the smallest, most immature way, doodling dicks everywhere and seeing my friend’s angry expressions when their school notes got sabotaged was a silly form of protest. Art is about confronting and making people, including yourself, feel uncomfortable. Art as social commentary, art as political commentary, art as racial, sexual, emotional commentary, it’s all important in the quest to evoke change.
Your work revolves around relationships – romantic and sexual – and instead of relying solely on the experiences of others, you’ve always been very candid in sharing your own. Do you consider this brave, or simply necessary?
It’s necessary. Honesty invites honesty. At the end of 2013 I compiled a zine filled with the early sexual experiences of about 25 different individuals titled Kaapstad Kinsey. My questions were simple but intrusive in some ways. When I made an open call for contributions, I published it along with my own answers. I think by doing that I invited very candid, genuine and funny responses. No one wants to confess to someone they don’t have dirt on.
Your upcoming solo show Ask for What You Want is confessional in structure, emphasising the importance of familiarising yourself with your own desire. Why do you think our society struggles with this, and why is it important to you to change or challenge it?
I’m a hypocrite for calling this show Ask for What You Want when I often have great difficulty doing just that. I’m a big victim of beating around the bush. Admitting to yourself what you want, sitting down and deciding exactly what you desire, all take great discipline and I think I’m only coming to grips with that now; if you don’t ask, take or do, you don’t receive.
“He was like this big” Girls talking smack at the pool / Watercolour and crayon on Fabriano, 2015
A self portrait a moment before social reintegration / PVA paint on Fabriano, 2015
Does creating under the pseudonym of Lady Skollie give you a certain freedom (even if it is only perceived) to explore topics that you might not experience if you were to attach your own name to your work?
I’m a huge fan of the Alter Ego. Building a character allows you to see it objectively. I’ve always felt that I was on either the Lady or the Skollie side of the fence. Creating an alter ego and ‘fictitious’ space where the two sides were co-existing in harmony allowed me to see how I was supposed to incorporate both aspects of my personality in my work and actually make the character real. So yes, producing work under the Lady Skollie pseudonym gives me freedom.
What challenges are young South African creatives faced with?
What is unique, exciting and or encouraging about the position of the youth in our country?
We’re finally seeing ourselves for what we are. And not through the eyes of those that have told us what to be for hundreds of years. We’re ready to be true to ourselves, create our own narratives and our own contexts.
If you could pass on a single piece of advice to your generation, what would it be?
Know your worth, know yourself and ask questions.
Pussy Print II / Watercolour on Fabriano, 2014
After Picasso’s Women of Algiers / Courtesy of Hazard Gallery, Mixed media on Fabriano, 2015
What issues exist within SA’s creative industry at the moment?
The disparity between the audience and the art. Weird gallery structures, the fact that there are still people that feel so alienated, racially, economically, from the art world that they never visit galleries. The fact that a newspaper couldn’t print the title of my work because it had the word ‘yonic’ in it? I don’t know, I could probably go on forever. There’s a lot of stuff wrong in the creative industries, not just SA.
Where do you hope to see our creative industry (and those operating within it) in 10 years’ time?
Operating more like a business. Never ever using the term ‘struggling artist’ or blaming your BA for your lack of work. I think I’d like to see it as just that; a creative INDUSTRY. Providing more work, becoming a financially viable option of study to pursue.
What would you like to be known for?
For cutting the bullshit. Oh and the pussy prints.
Ask for What You Want opens at Worldart (54 Church Street, Cape Town) during First Thursdays on 2 July, 2015
Pool Party / Crayon and watercolour on Fabriano, 2015
View of ‘The Only Reason’ mural / Courtesy of Michael Stevenson Gallery, 2015
No Potassium for sister during Lent / Watercolour and crayon on Fabriano, 2015
Takes a snake to know a snake / Watercolour and gold ink on Fabriano, 2015
Pussy print / Linocut, 2015
Where have all the Ladders gone? / Watercolours on Fabriano, 2015