If you go down to the woods today 2015

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Liza Grobler at Everard Read Gallery Cape Town

“Perhaps, what one wants to say,” she wrote in her notebook, in firm and elegant cursive, “is formed in childhood, and the rest of one’s life is spent trying to say it.” – Barbara Hepworth (British sculptor)*

Trying to make sense of Life – an ongoing experience that is at the best of times only half understood – is futile. As an artist, or maker of things, one can merely hope to go on treasure hunts and perhaps share some aspects of these explorations of Reality. (But is all of it a smokescreen?) in the hope that one can invoke a momentarily heightened shared experience. Step inside the dark matter. Suspend your disbelief.

The title of this show, is derived from the popular children’s song, Teddy Bears’ Picnic. The melody was composed in 1907 by American composer John Walter Bratton and in 1932 lyrics were added by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy.**

If you go down to the woods today, You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today, You’d better go in disguise.

This exhibition is a sort of mini retrospective. Many stories, from different shows meet here in the woods.
The installation explores the use of the colour black: the colour that swallowed the rainbow. I hope to invoke something of the wonder that we all had as children. Not by creating something pretty, but by constructing a simulation, a physical apparition that might be simultaneously awe inspiring and deeply unsettling. The experience of this exhibition is firstly a physical dialogue between the viewer, the space
and the fabrications that is occupying it.

This is an open invitation to all of you. Come along. Walk with me. Who knows what we may find?

Playlist 2015

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Playlist is a playful interpretation of a musical playlist. A colour experiment where music is the driving force behind the mark making and line direction. The playlist, “The best kicks against the pricks!”, was compiled by a friend and consists of a selection of rock and pop songs. It was listened to on repeat for the production of all five paintings. The premise was that a specific ground colour (white, blue, yellow, pink or green) would set a different tone in each instance.

The scale and format of the work was inspired by a recent visit to the Orangerie in Paris, where Monet’s Water Lilies are on permanent display. What becomes clear upon a visit to the Orangerie, is that the structure of the space forms an integral part of the experience. My aim was to create large non-referential colour fields that suggests a journey and also acknowledge the physical three-dimensional space and the viewer-object relationship. The viewer can loose themselves as they become enveloped by the colour and mark making. Yet, the paintings also become a type of second ‘skin’ that is experienced physically.

The large sculptural drop in the middle of the space, Suspension of Disbelief, is a place holder for the viewer. It is the life-force that connects inner and outer landscape and echoes the marks in the paintings.

Decor-Z 2015

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This collaborative exhibition offers an off-beat take on home decoration. Liza Grobler selected the work of five artists to create a space that is reminiscent of home, yet is somehow distorted, as if in a dream. Grobler weaves it all together with multiple connections: her fence-like constructions span the exterior and spill into the exhibition space, with the interior cocooned by her mural drawing.

The five other participants are Mark Rautenbach, Marlise Keith, Barbara Wildenboer, Jeanne Hoffman and Daniella Mooney. Selected for their use of specific materials, and elements of craft and repetition in their work, their pieces create fresh conversations with Grobler’s own work, as well as with the space they inhabit.

Decor-Z is presented by Spier in association with Yellowwoods Art, and housed in Spier’s newly restored Old Kitchen adjoining the historical Werf. 

Photographer: Frans Smit

Blindfolded Line, Dancing Through Time 2014

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The moment a point is set in motion, a line is created. This line multiplied, creates a web or a network that constructs images or connects objects, people and places.

Line is a basic element of traditional image making. When multiplied on a flat surface, it creates shape and once freed from the picture plane, it can construct 3 dimensional form.  In the medical profession it results in graphs that demonstrate invisible occurrences such as internal body rhythms –  thereby signaling the presence or absence of life. In science, line represents trajectories and progressions, thus suggesting cause and effect over time. Line therefore maps routes and connects things across space and time.

Blindfolded line, dancing through time is a site-specific mixed media installation and a playful investigation of the dichotomy that exist between inner and outer landscape. The “blindfolded line” suggests the creative process as an ongoing journey: a continuous exploration driven by free association, inadvertent connections, interdisciplinary collaboration and repetitive actions. Whereas this exhibition is on the one hand an attempt to visually manifest the above points, it is more importantly an exploration of the creative process itself; a search, in the manner of many an explorer: With blind faith and vague direction.

The line strives to dance, but mostly stumbles ahead into unknown territories. As with most explorations the outcome is often a surprise.

Many of the works manifested through collaboration and interaction with other artists and designers. Collaborators include: Qubeka Bead Studio, Norman O’flynn, Barbara Wildenboer, Jacques Du Plessis, Richard De Jager, Beate Frommelt, Julián Fuks, Teemu Mäki, Alicia Marván, Caoimhghin O’Fraithile, Ulric Roldanus, Lieven Segers, Mithu Sen, Kirsty Tinklerand Ella Ziegler.

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In commemoration of Liza Grobler’s 11th solo exhibition, Spier published the accompanying limited edition catalogue Blindfolded Line, Dancing Through Time.

Kloofstreet World Design Capital 2014

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ACCIDENTAL ART has been included as an official project in the World Design Capital Cape Town programme 2014. The second Accidental Art installation is a Half Square ceramic relief artwork by Liza Grobler, and marks the biggest Half Square piece to date, as well as the first exterior application of the ceramic art product.

Nando’s Kloof Street was the lucky recipient of this marvellous mural, which spans 20sqm and comprises over 6000 Half Square tiles, 100 colours (16 different blues make up the sky), and even a handful of gold coloured tiles realised in gold lustre.

Grobler’s design is based on a rich Fynbos landscape and echoes the silhouette of Signal Hill, which is located directly behind the Nando’s restaurant. This creates a play between the fore- and background, and urban and natural environments, also referencing a kind of oasis in the bustling city. The sense of Fynbos texture is conveyed through the multi-hued palette and nuanced gradations of Half Square units, as well as their dynamic triangular format. This solution demonstrates the full potential of the Half Square aesthetic – it is somehow simultaneously fixed and organic; with the triangles adding diagonal movement and allowing a wide range of tonal variation to an otherwise static grid.

This public art intervention is a departure of sorts from Grobler’s usual public pieces, which are normally temporary. Because of this piece’s permanence, she opted for a more open-ended design, to encourage discussion and public engagement rather than impose a specific point of view. In promoting this objective, fold-down benches by Pedersen + Lennard and an umbrella were installed at the site – complementing the artwork with Grobler’s signature sense of quirkiness and playfulness, and amplifying the idea of an urban oasis.

The striking mural was launched last week to a crowd of Nando’s executives, artists and media, with a delicious spread provided by Nando’s – the sponsors of Accidental Art.

Honey Drops 2014

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This temporary installation was conceived for the Winter Sculpture Show 2014 at the Nirox Foundation at the Cradle of Humankind. The work is titled Honey Drops and is constructed from 10 000 pipe cleaners. The form reference birds nest, organic structures and the colours of the surrounding landscape ins summer.

Diary of a Nanosatellite 2013

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Did you know that South Africa has a space programme? Africa’s first nanosatellite was launched on 21 November 2013 from a small town in Russia. A nanosatellite is a very small satellite, only 10 x 10 x 10 cm, and this one was developed
by the electrical engineering department at CPUT. ZACUBE-1 will orbit the earth 15 times a day, from pole to pole and measure space weather. Very few people will witness the actual launch.

To commemorate this historic event and to celebrate the power of innovative thinking, Liza Grobler conceptualised
an artwork which united artists, engineers and scientists and brought the CPUT space programme to the attention
of local youth.

On Saturday 30 November 2013 artists and engineers partook in a honorary procession. The participants – dressed in white lab suits with red weather balloons hovering overhead, carried a 3-d replica of the satellite to a large open field in Khayelitsha. The event symbolises the integral role satellites play in daily life on earth in the 21st century: Space and earth is connected.

Participants included: Robert van Zyl (director of the CPUT Space programme), Liza Grobler, Kilmany-Jo Liversage, Sonya Rademeyer, Swain Hoogervorst, Martin Lund, Marna Hattingh, Mandisa Masina, Vanessa Berlein, Stephan Berlein, Pierre Fouché, Werner Ungerer, Lynette Bester, Nolubabalu Khanku, Zukiswa Matanya, Sibongile Skiet, Nolufefe Kanti, Namhla Mbasa, Miranda Vinjwa, Seth Harper, Adrienne Van Eeden-Wharton, Katherine Bull and Stephen Cupido.

‘The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) is proud to be a part of this august scientific journey of discovery and look forward in anticipation for the results borne forth from the passion, dedication and expertise of our local scientists, researchers, engineers and students. This may be a small step for South Africa, but it is certain to inspire a large transformation of our space technologies and education.’ – Dr Sandile Malinga, CEO of the South African National Space Agency. This message will be carried into space by ZACUBE-1.

White Termite Installation 2012

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“The most perfect example of the group soul can be observed in our own bodies. The human body is composed of a number of organs, each connected by a visible or invisible thread to a central point, the brain. Each organ is in constant activity and has a separate purpose – at least the purpose appears to be separate and independent; but on closer observation we find that all the organs are really working for a communal purpose. The influence dominating all the organs comes from one central point. In no single organ can we find a real independent purpose.”
(Eugène Marais, The Soul of the White Ant)

White Termite, owes its’ title to The Soul of the White Ant, a literary work that can
be classified as an historic document… This collection of essays by renowned naturalist and poet  Eugène Marais, was first published in 1934 and his observations had a significant impact on science. In the 21st century due to a growing interest in the biomorphic (especially in the fields of Architecture and design), this book has resurfaced as one of the most thorough and significant studies ever conducted on the topic of termites. Termites are strategic in an involuntary way; it’s in their nature: They never rest, never sleep and are sexless, blind and both master builders and forces of demolition. Because of their size, individual actions are almost invisible to the human eye, but the results of the combined efforts are often monumental.

In White Termite all the parts relate to the whole; flashes within a larger universe
of blues. Central is the installation of 5 small porta-pool wishing wells: a tongue-in-cheek reference to water as life-giving source that evolved and transformed over time to provide the lifeline that connects the parts to the whole.  Water as natural substance is sabotaged by digital projections and the collaborative process (the ongoing crocheting performances).

Mooi uitsig to Mooiuitsig 2012

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Interactive artventure for HAWK 2012 executed with the assistance of
Swain Hoogervorst and Hannah Paton. 2012

*The translation for ‘mooi uitsig’ is ‘beautiful view’. Mooiuitsig is also the name of the local community where the Penguin Kidz school is situated.

Art Entrepeneur Lien Botha is the organisor and driving force behind the first Hangklip Art Week (HAWK). As a resident of Betty’s Bay she noticed the severe impact of the economic crash on local business and artists in the region. The motivation behind the HAWK initiative is to a) establish an annual opportunity for reputable artists from the region to generate sales outside of the commercial gallery structure and b) to create an event that will serve as an economic injection for tourism in the area.

A number of acclaimed artists were invited to open their homes and studios to the public. Botha then approached Grobler to conceptualise a site-specific project that could serve as “a thread that runs through the whole project”.

Mooi uitsig to Mooiuitsig: The most recognizable aspect of the HAWK route is the landscape and its breathtaking views. One is acutely aware of the presence of the natural surroundings: rugged, dramatic and one of the most biodiverse in the country. Mooi uitsig to Mooiuitsig was tailored towards the motorists that pass through this landscape and was a treasure-hunt for travellers! The project provided a visual link between studios, local business and the Mooiuitsig community. It implemented subversive strategies to promote interaction and participation. The event culminated at the Penguin Kidz Pre primary School in Mooiuitsig with site-specific interventions and entrepreneurial interactions driven by the preschoolers and their teachers.

99 bright pink signs with iconic black binoculars marked the route and pointed at rock faces, plants and look out points as visitors drove from Gordon’s bay towards the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay. These arrow shaped signs directed the traveller’s gaze as they approach Hangklip by car/bike/bus. Visitors could count the signs, enter the correct number into the box at the Harold Porter Garden and stand the chance to win a mystery prize.

Tjorts!/Cheers! 2012

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Mixed media drawings (diasec)

Tjorts!/Cheers! is a collection of drawings that celebrate small moments in everyday life. The drawings are based on a poem by Danie Marais.

Cheers!

The world is everything
that is the case
Wittgenstein said.
Everything, however,
rubbed me wrong for years
I clenched my black heart
childlike for revolution my teeth
on edge for another world.

But on this hazy summer day
with the city washed up
jetsam against Table Mountain covered
in scars my cup runs over I toast:
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
and The Story of an African Farm
from an attic window in Woodstock.
For, oh, this deluded world with its petty wars
Cape Minstrel choirs and mountain fires this ocean
we have ploughed this dashed world is
my home with its
Grapes of Wrath its Rain Dogs its mutts
barking at the gates of paradise its
Madame Bovarys and bergies riding
bluetrain spirits horrors high, yes, only this world
gives us
a perverse masterpiece
our daily bread –
the great unholy mass clouding
the sun.

– by Danie Marais