Challenging convention

Artist Adele van Heerden.
Botanical art involves painting flowers, and as a result, it has a reputation of being a feminine art form, however for Adele van Heerden says it’s the perfect outlet to express her own take on the world.

The 30-year-old artist, who grew up in Durbanville, says she was drawn to botanical art after researching it.

Ms Van Heerdeen said that the art form was not always her favourite, but after doing more research on the matter, she soon found out that it was a great platform for her particular style and preference.
“What I love most about it, is that I can express my feminine power through it, and I can use that it into something edgy. I am able to challenge convention and it allows my cheekiness and uniqueness to show,” she said.
Ms Van Heerden added that while studying at the University of Cape Town, she became intrigued by the RhodesMustFall protests which then provided inspiration for a number of her pieces.

Ms Van Heerden said: “I found the whole debate about the old monuments and the different views from each party very intriguing. At the time, I was doing a lot of monument art, and I found I could incorporate the botanical art into this as well so I started creating artwork on different types of media about the fact that these statues were removed or defaced. For me it was a way to unpack the debate and understand the different points of view, I have always felt that when I draw things I understand them better.” 

While at UCT, Van Heerden was studying a honours degree in curatorship. She also has a degree which she obtained at the Ruth Prowse School of Art in 2010 and a BA degree in history and politics through Unisa. 

Studying curatorship has helped Ms Van Heerden gain more experience in the art world as since obtaining her certificate in the subject, she has been able to host small shows where she has helped showcase not only her own work, but also the other aspiring artists in Johannesburg and Cape Town. 

She said: “The curatorship to me is another medium where I can express my creativity while it also helps me connect with other artists and the audience on a different level. I really feel it helps me as an artist because now I understand both sides in terms of being an artist and being part of ‘management’.”

To celebrate Women’s Month, Van Heerden will be curating a show, Botanica II, featuring the work of several artists including hers, at the Arts Association of Bellville Gallery, at the Bellville Library Centre, untilcalled, which started yesterday and will run Tuesday September 10. 

The show follows last year’s edition which Ms Van Heerden said was a great success and she hopes that the artists on display will follow her request for them to give their own contemporary interpretation to a traditional classical genre. 

Anne Wells, a committee member of the association, said: “The Botanica show was a success last year and we hope that it will continue in the same vein this year. The interpretation of flowers and the expression of it is the perfect way to welcome spring.”