We talked to artist Ruan Hoffmann about his exhibition at iArt Gallery in Cape Town, the inspiration behind his beautiful ceramics and his recent three-month residency in Amsterdam.
Of the 100 pieces on show at iArt, how many were created during your residency at the Thami Mnyele Foundation in Holland?
Almost all of the artworks relate to my stay in Amsterdam. Most of the ideas behind them started there, and all the ceramic decals were conceived and printed there – but the majority of pieces were made in South Africa in the last quarter of 2010 and earlier this year.
How did your time in Amsterdam influence your work?
I was there during the build up to the World Cup and watched a series on Dutch television dedicated to South African artists and writers. It was a really interesting, different spin on the ‘Grand South African Sport focus’, and inspiring, too. My art also deals with my everyday experiences. I painted a few trees in the Vondelpark, for instance, because we used to cycle through the park daily
Is there a story behind the plate with all the birds?
That plate is called ‘The Dawn Chorus’. It was the strangest thing but our first morning in Amsterdam was dead quiet – I’m so used to a full dawn chorus at my home in Johannesburg. I only heard birds in the Vondelpark, so I made this plate because I missed them.
We absolutely love ‘New Wedgwood’. Can you tell us a little more about it?
That specific transfer is from an old book on English ceramics. It could just as easily have been Portmeirion, but I got to Wedgwood first! I loved the image and hand-painted concentric circles around it – for me, an improvement on the original. My work is very removed from what this company did and is doing.
You work in many mediums and with different materials. Is paper clay your favourite?
My career in ceramics basically happened by default: I got sidetracked by the possibilities of ceramics. I’m really curious and impatient, and with ceramics you never know exactly what to expect – but this medium does respond well to me.
Ruan’s show runs until 29 March at iArt Gallery in Wembley Square, Gardens, Cape Town. Visit www.iart.co.z