Artist Paula van Coller tells us about a few of her pieces
The Stellenbosch-based artist Van Coller-Louw is known for her intriguing blossoms and beautiful pieces that have been viewed at five solo and more than 50 group exhibitions over the last 18 years. Her art predominantly consists of her favourite medium, oil paint, and has to do with the botanical. For Paula, plants, flowers and bulbs symbolise the necessity to adapt, change, conform and flourish.
Cynara’s fall, 580 x 790mm, oil on canvas
"The painting is inspired by an Aegean legend. The poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus wrote a poem about the first artichoke.
There was a lovely young girl who lived on the island of Zinari. The god, Zeus who visited his brother Poseidon noticed the young mortal woman. It seems that she wasn’t frightened by the presence of a god.
Zeus seized the opportunity to seduce her. He was so impressed with the girl, whose name was Cynara, that he made her a goddess for her to be closer to Olympia. Cynara agreed to be is mistress and Zeus anticipated the trysts to come, whenever his wife Hera was away.
However, Cynara missed her mother and briefly visited the world of mortals. Zeus discovered this un-goddess-like behavior when she returned. He was furious and hurled her back to earth She was transformed into plant."
Nightshade mystery 150 x 180mm, oil on canvas
"I was inspired by a 17th-century Baroque painter Juan Sánchez Cotán. He is known for his bodegón still life of vegetables in intensity darkness with a mystical quality. In some of his images, he used a string to hang the fruits, vegetables, and fowl. This hanging of food would have been a common practice during the time as it protected the food from bruising and from pests.
I personally find that we as humans believe we can preserve everything to keep it good or the same. However, nature continually reminds us of seasonal change. We cannot preserve our relationship as it needs to adapt, change, conform, and flourish.
This specific branch is one of the late bloomers that bloom in your garden before spring. The blossom branch hangs on a string. This was basically the last chance to paint a blossom. Like any last change, one tends to make the extra effort to succeed. It was amazing to note the beautiful shadows of the hanging branch on the canvas, it creates a mystical effect with the sun from the west.
My paintings are painted in stages; I began with the real-life subject matter, then make use of photographs and finally memory. This is the first painting that I painted in my new studio."
The Food Basket Exhibition
"Deals with food security. South Africa has enough food to feed its entire population, and yet many people, especially the poor in the rural areas, remain vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition.
According to world and regional rankings for death by food shortages, South Africa rates 30th out of 192 countries in the world. The World Health Organization estimates that one third of the world is well fed, one-third is under fed and one-third is starving.
A household is considered food-secure when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation. How can we contribute to food security?
In 500 BC, an anonymous Chinese poet, wrote:
If you are thinking a year ahead, sow seed
If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree
If you are thinking hundred years ahead, educate the people.
One of my first lessons in science was how to grow broad beans in cotton wool. Today I have my own fruit, vegetable and herb garden. When people understand the reasons behind hunger in their country and learn how to eradicate it.
'A crisis is looming: To feed our growing
population, we’ll need to double food production.
Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough,
and climate change and new diseases threaten
the limited varieties we’ve come to depend
on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds
and breeds to ensure our future food supply-
but we must take steps to save them'."
National Geographic, July 2011, Food Ark by Charles Siebert