Upon entering the space, I was surprised to meet two of the artists, Pamela Yates and Magda van der Walt. They spoke with enthusiasm about each other’s art as well as their own and how they came to be associated with one another. The ladies’ group grew from a friendship, supporting each other through the arts. They decided to showcase their work together and curated every part of the exhibition themselves.
The art was presented in an eclectic arrangement. Artists were not beholden to one wall but truly shared the space with each other, cleverly blocked by colour and shape. Each artist works with completely different materials and style, you won’t need to read the title card to understand who created it.
Judith Maxim combines watercolour with print. Circles and orbs are playfully included in Maxim’s work whether the subject is nature, abstract or cosmic. Her minimalist and delicate approach invite depth and movement in her landscapes and nature studies.
Magda van der Walt displays her fascinating dreamlike landscapes made using only wax and a travel-sized iron. Inspired by YouTube tutorials, Van der Walt paints cyan trees and terracotta skies with melted wax. It is hard to believe her delicate petals are created by a domestic appliance. The layers of wax give her alien scenes depth, leaving lots of room for you to ask “how did she do that?” Van der Walt admitted that she ironically hates the chore of ironing but loves the art it can produce.
Like van der Walt, Yate’s postmodern patchwork collections highlight layers and contrasting palettes. A personal favourite of mine was Picasso Jug, an embroidered study of one of the iconic Dadaist’s still life paintings. Yates experiments with Indian and Korean textile techniques. She collages scraps of fabric she has collected over the years, making her “carbon footprint as small as possible”. Using hand and machine, Yates Layers cords to create stunning gradients like her piece Sea and Sky 1. Gold thread often weaves texture and shimmer in her geometric pieces.
Kat Newson’s charming handmade beaded jewellery is proudly displayed alongside the group’s greeting cards. Newson’s designs are intricate and conveniently adjustable.
Despite the very different techniques and materials, the artists share expressive colour and each demands the viewers’ attention. Ensemble takes traditionally feminine tools and celebrates texture, colour, sustainable art and standing out. The exhibition at Millwood Gallery, 291b Tinakori Rd, runs until Sunday 13th of May. I might have to go back to purchase a Mothers’ Day gift!