Artist biography

I am an artist and creative facilitator based in South Africa.

After obtaining my BTech qualification in Graphic Design (Cum Laude) at the Vaal University of Technology in 2006 I worked as a graphic designer in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Cape Town, before shifting my focus to my art-making and projects that relates to art and the environment. Since 2007 I participated in workshops in concept development, art therapy, performance art and professional art practice. These workshops served to further my knowledge, enrich my art practice, and enhance my teaching abilities. I have been offering art classes, workshops and land art sessions since 2010 – both independently and as contributions to projects, festivals and events.

My first solo exhibition ‘Wild & Still: expressions of the landscape‘ was hosted in June 2014 by StateoftheArt Gallery in Cape Town, who also hosted my second solo exhibition ‘ORGANISM‘ in April 2016. I participated in various group exhibitions over the years, and coordinated the exhibition VERGE in Knysna in 2018, and ‘(eco)nversation’ in Cape Town in 2012.

Some residencies and projects that I’ve been involved include the Global Nomadic Art Project (GNAP) by Yatoo [of which Stories of Rain coordinated by Site_Specific was the South African leg of the project], the 2015 Thupelo artist workshop in Cape Town, and OPENLab2016 at the University of Free state [as part of the Vrystaat Art Festival’s PIAD initative (Programme for Innovation in Artform Development)] and MAP (Modern Art Projects) in Richmond. In 2015 I created a sand installation at THAT ART FAIR in Salt River, Cape Town, and assisted on Anni Snyman’s Snake Eagle Thinking Path in Matjiesfontein, which forms part of the Karoo Geoglyph project. I have done several corporate commissions and projects which include artworks for PPS Investments, PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Optima Training, and an artwork for the Sandown MyCiti bus station in Bloubergstrand, Cape Town.

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I love things that symbolise, express or honour the rhythms, seasons and cycles of nature. I believe that energy connects us within space and time to each other, the planet and everything in, on and around it. I believe art can facilitate healing, strengthen these energy connections and inspire the expression of the creativity inherent in everyone.

Janet Botes

Artist Statement

With an intuitive, exploratory approach to art, my work often process based. It ranges from detailed ink drawings to performative actions and explorations in urban-, gallery- and outdoors spaces. I am interested in the nature and spirit of place just as much as our inter-relationships with these spaces and other organisms. The initial concept for an artwork often change and evolve over a period of days or weeks. A process is often also guided by spontaneous responses to my subject matter and materials, and in this sense each artwork is a new experience and exploration. What unifies my work is my underlying intention of sharing my connection and respect for the sacredness and interconnectivity of life. I am particularly guided and inspired by ecology, biodiversity, natural cycles and our place as a species within the web of life and the galactic community.

My work is inspired by the natural rhythms of the Earth and by taking into consideration how deep ecology, biology, the Gaia theory and our daily lives intertwine. My work is also informed by my quest to learn more about myself and the world, finding new ways of being, deepening my spiritual experience of what we call ‘reality’, and expressing this in ever expanding ways.

Nature is resilient and powerful, but the balance of ecosystems can be easily disrupted when the interconnectivity of all living creatures and processes are not respected. When even one species of insect or fungus is eradicated completely, other animals, plants or natural processes of growth and decay that relied upon the species can no longer function or exist, which creates a chain reaction with devastating results. Our actions as inhabitants and custodians of the earth have an unthinkably large impact on the earth – within the palms of our hands we hold the power to change our way of living and co-existing.

Through exploring and supporting nature conservation and awareness about environmental issues in my work or professional life for the past few years, I have come to believe that the core of our problems is not the system itself. It is not society, the government or our cities. The core of the problem is the individuals that make up our society and build the inefficient and destructive systems, and individuals who see themselves as disconnected beings, as separate from “nature”, rather than a thread in the web of life. I believe that through personal healing, we can build and support a life of harmony and respect for our planet, plant kingdom, animals and each other.

My process & materials

Oryx/Gemsbok created from stones - land art by Janet Botes

A good example of my creative process can be seen in the way I worked during the Thupelo workshop held in Cape Town in June 2016. During the workshop I organised a land art outing to Granger Bay, had my fellow artists interact with a pebble, created a textual work in the library of Ruth Prowse art school, created in-camera double-exposures including the other artists’ work, created an installation with leaves and sand, cut shapes and holes into leaves, as well as drew lines with water on the bricks of the school.

Some of my work is very transient, ephemeral, time-specific or temporary. This is done not only in order to not leave a lasting impact on the site, but also to emphasise the impermanence and flux of life, the cyclical nature of our physical world. I focus on honouring the fragility and temporary nature of our lives when perceived in relation to geological time, even though we tend to strive so hard for longevity and eternal youth. These works only live on through photographic documentation, that captures the moment after creation, or sometimes a sequence of images that document the decay or destruction of the artwork.

My temporary work is also in response to being part of a society who chase material wealth rather than spiritual wealth and health, and who often use resources in a way that does not consider the future of life on the planet. In our pursuit to make things lasting – whether it is our youth, investment art or our houses – we tend to use materials and chemicals that harm not only ourselves, but our soil, our water and all other life that share the Earth with us. My work is an attempt at returning to the eternal present moment, returning to our own essence as soil, star dust and energy that form part of this intricate web of life.

My land art and other in situ, time-specific and interactive work often serves as starting point for my work in the studio.

Themes that I’ve explored in my previous work include: METAMORPHOSIS  /  SPOOR  /  ORGANISM
Journeys are also an underlying theme in my work, due to my own travels through landscapes (and thus my own personal relationship with the sites I visit), and this theme is evident in my Nuances series – a series of limited edition archival landscape prints on Hahnemuhle.

MY VISION

A world filled with more trees and art, in which everyone’s hearts beat faster for the beauty of a stormy sky, forest, landscape, or a praying mantis appearing. A life of balance, simplicity, mindfulness and creativity – connected to ecology, biodiversity, regeneration and a new way of living with compassion & tolerance for all other people and species.

MY MISSION

I use my impulse to create to share my experiences and perspectives in ways that enrich, inform and inspire. Creating art that honour the sacred in life, in highlighting the beauty & complexity of life. Exploring ways of connecting more deeply to our true nature within the web of life – as a fellow species to others, reliant on the cycles of the Earth, and responsible for conserving biodiversity and assisting the natural regeneration of our ecosystems.