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JULIA VAN SCHALKWYK
Julia van Schalkwyk (nee Vroegop) was born in 1962 in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Her German mother and Dutch father met during WWII, before the Wall was erected in Berlin, when her mother tried to cross the border from East to West Germany. Her third attempt proved to be successful and the couple settled in the Netherlands. The family stayed in St Pancras for four years where Julia, the youngest of four children, was born. They relocated from here to the RSA in 1963 as part of an immigrants’ project launched by the South African government in bringing artisans with specialized skills to South Africa. Her father was a ‘staalvlegter’ and his skills were much sought after when power stations and big bridges were being built in SA.
Julia graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Stellenbosch after which she enrolled at the RAU (University of Johannesburg) to do her Honours degree in Developing Administration. She had to let it go, with a semester of practical work to go, as the family moved again in that same year. She, however, initiated and led various projects such as the ‘Diamantfondsprojek’ in 1990. This involved the painting and making of textile products which were then sold to the Kim Sachs Gallery in Johannesburg.
Julia and husband Conrad Louw, an exploration geologist, have been married for 32 years and have two grown children.
They own and have been living and working on a rooibos tea farm just outside Niewoudtville in the Northern Cape for the past 16 years.
It is the ideal setting for Julia to experiment and practise with various materials, mediums and art forms. She also owns a retail shop in Nieuwoudtville.
Julia is an accomplished artist with a background in various wonderful forms of art, as well as the development of art and artists alike, in SA and Namibia. From 1988 -2005, she worked on big consignments of leather painting, which involved several techniques such as using textile paint on sheep chamois and kudu hide. Her work was also exhibited at Hobby Horse in Swakopmund from 1990 to 2000 and exported to the Benelux regions in the Netherlands. Her large scale paper mache works, such as chairs, bookshelves and mirrors, were exhibited and sold at the Rabbit in a Hat Gallery in Windhoek and also in Johannesburg, where Julia then moved to in 1991.
Upon eventually relocating to the Northern Cape and settling at Aggeneys, Julia bought a pottery oven and did mostly handwork, which she sold in Aggeneys, Spingbok, Cape Town and Vredendal as well, for or a period of 3 to 4 years. She made her own clay stamps and made authentic African impressions in stoneware and grogged earthernware vessels. She also initiated and funded a storyblanket project using silkscreen prints with the shellac method, which worked tremendously in the storytelling effort of a local, Boy Brandt, since it imitated a linocut look. The artwork itself was done by Trudie Rochel. It almost came in for a Brett Kebble exhibition in late 2010. Ten of these Africana-impression blankets were printed and some of them exhibited and sold at Artvark Gallery, Kalk Bay, and Hantamhuis in Calvinia. The aim of this project was mainly job creation. Julia looked for potential artists to develop the skill and process of giving the blanket artworks the impression of linocut blocks, by using a shellac technique.
Julia’s love of nature, animals and the people of Africa is evident in her photography, which she has a unique eye for and is her ultimate passion. However, she might have found her match in her latest project. The art of layer masking – by means of digitally manipulating images – mostly derived from photographs she has taken herself. She skilfully gives rebirth to light, shadows and tonality and in the process changes not only the images but one’s perceptions of reality and art.