Belinda Blignaut

“We have one story to tell and keep finding different ways of telling it”

Emerging in the early 1990s, Belinda Blignaut was one of the group of young conceptual and experimental artists whose work served as a commentary on the social and political uncertainty of South Africa, often in challenging or, at the very least, critical terms. Belinda Blignaut’s work has always, in various forms, suggesed an urgency for change.

Through varied series over decades, she has been exploring transformation, with the body at the centre of all. Through an engagement with readily available materials, processing immediate surroundings, she hopes to translate the ways we adapt, a visceral investigation into life and the creative process. Her work with clay takes her interest in materiality as a metaphor for psychological transformation into an ongoing series of performative and sculptural vessels, a love affair with life, earth and organic matter.

In looking to create from a deeper source, Blignaut began digging her own wild clay, using it unprocessed to allow for chance, unknowns and the natural reactions between raw materials and minerals; thought embedded in organic matter. Combining psychologies of people and place in intuitive wheel thrown and rough hand built shapes, she sets out to make ‘an other’ whole. She seeks complex surfaces and ‘error’, celebrating imperfection through various transmutations in this honest and raw terrain.

Taking her interest in clay into the lives of others, she facilitates expression in workshops and classes. She has worked with people who have special needs. This is as much part of her personal practice as what her own body or earth is to her.

From these processes arose a series of forms called ‘Working From The Inside’. In an eight hour performance, the artist works from the inside of her large scale vessels as she builds, shaping the clay as much as it shapes her, both artist and medium continually pushed and pulled to limits until the vessel breaks. Blignaut says she breaks sometimes too, crossing personal boundaries each time, gaining insight into the layers of process that we as humans are. The audio accompanying this work is made of layers, sampled over years, of the recorded sounds of her making process, performed live.

These immersive experiences are somewhere been wrestling and allowing object to find its own personality, working from the inside and outside simultaneoulsy. A lot like dancing (in a mosh pit), a lot like life.