Sculptor, painter and digital artist, Wilma Cruise has had twelve solo shows. She has curated a number of exhibitions including Earthworks: Claybodies (2003 2004) (Pretoria Art Museum; The Standard Bank Gallery and Sasol University of Stellenbosch Museum). Her thirteenth solo exhibition is Cocks Asses & which is currently running at the University of Johannesburg Art Gallery.
One of Cruise’s recent works, The Dolly Suite, includes installations and a series of mono-prints made in collaboration with David Krut Arts Resource and the commission Sheep May Safely Graze: the Return of the Bultfontein Sheep for the Oliewenhuis Museum in Bloemfontein. Another public work, The Right to Life, was installed at the Constitutional Court in 2004 and a further commission was Ancestor for the Department of Science and Technology at the CSIR, Pretoria.
Awards won by Cruise include Architect’s Project Award (2000) for the National Monument to the Women of South Africa, Wathint’ Abafazi Wathint’ Imbokodo: Strike The Woman Strike The Rock (Union Buildings, Pretoria); the quarterly Vita Award in 1993 for Nicholas (1990) and the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award at the Biennale Internazionale dell’arte Contemporanea, Florence (2001).
Cruise’s sculptures are typically rendered in expressive life-size figures in bronze and ceramic. Her work is represented in the South African National Gallery, the Corobrik Collection, the Pretoria Art Museum, Durban Art Museum, the University of South Africa, MTN, Standard Bank, the Billiton collection and the Constitutional Court.
The series of images selected for the Montage exhibition are taken from my A3 workbooks. As an obsessive observer of my own art making process I habitually draw, write, scribble and take notes.
This not the first time that I have worked with the digital printmaking process. As early as 1995 I found a printmaker who was able to enlarge a page of my notebook into a print on canvas for my exhibition, John’s Wife in 1996. The print is now in my collection. In 2005 I again tried the digital printmaking process but put my forays into the medium on hold until the recent discovery of Ricardo Fornoni of Eye2i.
Digital printing is not merely enlargement or reproduction of an existing image. That is a gross misunderstanding of the process. Like intaglio printmaking or photography for that matter, it allows for the production of multiples. But like those other techniques it has its own unique processes and characteristics, which in the hands of the artist and a skilled print maker, allow for a new and particular form of expression.
I often play with aspects of the digital process, in particular the photocopy process, using photocopied fragments. The image could be a ‘found object’ or more often a photograph of one of my sculptures, digitally reproduced and enlarged in black and white. The resultant image is thus a dense layered record of my art making. I enlarge, alter by drawing or erasing and reproduce the image again. On occasion I enlarge the final image to the point of excessive pixelation, (like a lazy Lichtenstein).
The works produced for Montage use this technique. In Noah I and Noah II I used a ‘found object’, a page torn from an in-flight magazine showing the flight paths of KLM over the USA. I scanned the image and overlaid it with drawings of shaman-like figures.
In the Nursery Rhyme sequence the collage elements are again ‘found’. But this time they are fragments from my childhood books. I tore pages from the ‘Treasure Casket’, volumes, now yellowed with age, containing those nursery rhymes and fables that so delighted me as a child. I drew across these pages. The images are self-portraits, or strange masked male figures, anxious and rushing to another place, or lumpily static. The works are an evocation of memory and the sweetness of childhood.