Theresa Jo is a Cape Town based artist whose body of work demonstrates an impressive versatility.
Theresa is the co-founder and co-owner of Artvark Gallery which opened in Kalk Bay in 1998.
She began her career as a jewellery maker, completing a BA in Jewellery Design at Stellenbosch University in 1982. After her residency at Cite' Internationale des Arts, Paris (1985 -6) she returned to Cape Town and designed the ever popular ‘Artvark Cutlery Range’. Theresa went on to focus on etching, ceramics, as well as steelwork design. Theresa designed the familiar 8 life-size 3D steelwork figures which are a permanent public installation at the Greenpoint A track, as well as the large steel wall panels at Knightsbridge, Century City. Her large, seated steel sculpture ‘Faan’, created for ‘Kom Sit’ in 2015 currently resides on the West Coast.
Theresa’s work is concerned with the exploration of themes including the beauty found in everyday objects, the deep connection to the natural environment which surrounds her Cape Town home, as well as socio-political and environmental issues such as the plight of women as preservers of life and the nature of ‘women’s work’ as seen in ‘5 tot 5 Emmers’ which formed part of ‘My Obsessie – Die Emmer’ installation at Woordfees 2019.
Theresa is passionately creative, describing the process of creating as ‘intoxicating’, and the way in which the artwork leads her is inspiring, unintentional and distinctive.
Her approach to the materials with which she works is inherently playful and exploratory.
Theresa is unconventional, and finds that by eschewing conventional rules, new and interesting combinations and unique outcomes are revealed by means of innovation.
The words of Joseph Campbell describe her motivation - “A profound respect for inherited forms has generally suppressed innovation.”
With relevance to her etching and her mark making, she appreciates how the interplay of aspects of control and the unknown inform the process. It is this challenge, “to move from complete chaos on your desk to a sterile environment where mishaps are fatal”, that she finds inspiring. Theresa follows the tenet of "Undisciplined imagination with disciplined execution”. This, in her view unites the polarities of discipline - the element of uncontrollability of the monoprint and the precision of etching.
Against the backdrop of the recent severe drought, this work unpacks the significance of the ordinary ‘Bucket’ as ancient ritual object; symbol of life-giving, and shows how this artefact is condensed as a ‘text’ and a tool, transmitting feminine wisdom intergenerationally.
Theresa is also passionate about the plight and preservation of the art of the San people