HERMIEN VAN DER MERWE
Cape Town. The place where I live, home to my heart. The place where Fynbos grows: Proteas, Pincushions, Ericas and Restios. Embraced by Table Mountain, it’s the most beautiful place in the world. And it’s here, as Day Zero loomed, that the City’s people rallied together to save every drop of water they could. We lined up our buckets, nothing allowed to go to waste. Water, as precious as gold. And as the drought continued, Table Mountain was regularly engulfed by devastating veld fires – threatening Fynbos plants, animals and human beings.
It’s in this space of beauty and scarcity, where I explore through my art, the interaction between fire, drought and rain on Cape Fynbos.
I enjoy working in a wide range of arts mediums and Fynbos forms the golden thread through my art. I live in Oranjezicht in Cape Town and walk regularly on the mountain paths in the Table Mountain Nature reserve for inspiration for my work. I study Fynbos plants in their natural environment and observe the impact of the climate on the Fynbos: the drought and fires, as well as the recent rains. I focus my attention on the connection between heaven and earth — the point where heaven meets earth. I constantly explore the parallels between the physical and the spiritual, as I engage with nature as creation.
Through my theme and application, I try to raise awareness to the Fynbos Biosphere to preserve Fynbos for future generations - preferably as a living, adaptable Biome but also immortalized in art.
The colours I used for my new body of work, is predominantly green and blue, symbolising the new life brought forth by water/rain. I regularly use vertical lines in the background of my works - also depicting rain. I often cut vertical lines in my lino blocks or use gravity to drip diluted oil paint onto canvas - the liquid finding its way downward, much like rain.
In my new mono prints series, titled: ' Human Nature ', I included human silhouettes in my work for the first time — showing humans becoming one with nature. I made the mono prints by using a homemade jelly slab and printers’ ink. I then used actual Fynbos plants to print onto the paper. These works are oval-shaped – referring to a raindrop or egg – to symbolize new life.
Along with the monoprints, I also made three large Fynbos Lino prints. I use wood carving tools to cut through the lino. This reminds me, that as humans, we too sometimes must undergo a process of cutting away to ultimately show our true beauty. The Fynbos plants, likewise, get scorched by veld fires, to produce new life and a better flowering season.
I hope that my artworks will whisper positive words of light and hope into the homes of their new owners.
1992 – 1995: B.Prim.Ed.Art at the University of Stellenbosch
1996 – 1998: Art Teacher at De Kuilen Primary School
1998 – 2001: Travel in Europe and Canada
2001 – 2010: Artist; Art Teacher
2011: Completed an advanced art course at the Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town
2011 – Present: Full time artist in Durbanville, Cape Town
2005: Solo exhibition: KKNK, Oudtshoorn
2006: Solo exhibition: KKNK, Oudtshoorn
2007: Solo exhibition: KKNK, Oudtshoorn
2008: Group exhibition: The Meul, Philadelphia, Cape Town
2009: Group exhibition: The Meul, Philadelphia, Cape Town
2010: Group exhibition: The Meul, Philadelphia, Cape Town
2012: Group exhibition: Durbanville Arts and Cultural Society
2013: Zivaglo Light Show, Woordfest, Stellenbosch
2013: New Signatures exhibition: Alice Art Gallery, Johannesburg
2013: Group Exhibition: Durbanville Arts and Cultural Society
2014: Group Exhibition: Rust and Vrede Gallery, Durbanville, "The Grand"
2014: Solo Exhibition, Rust and Vrede Gallery, Durbanville: "Blom waar jy geplant is" (Flower where you are sown)
2015: Group Exhibition, ANPA Galery, Franschhoek: "Homer Sapiens"
2015: Solo Exhibition, Hermien van der Merwe Gallery, Durbanville
2017: Solo Exhibition: “Composing Art”, Welgemeend, Cape Town
2018: Solo Exhibition: ‘Come Fire, Come Rain’, Welgemeend, Cape Town
2018: Strauss & Co. group exhibition: "Boundaries" South African women artists over the past 100 years; Welgemeend, Cape Town
2018: Group exhibition: “What we need is here”, Welgemeend, Cape Town
2019: Solo exhibition: "Let it rain", The Old Agricultural Hall, Stellenbosch
2019: Group exhibition: “Fynbos en die emmer obsessie’, Welgemeend, Cape Town
2019: Group exhibition: “Natura: Botanica Terrarum”, Gallery One11, Cape Town