My work is a celebration of age-old knowledge passed down through matrilineage heritage with fond nostalgia to childhood memories of learning crafting techniques and the appreciation of handmade woven and croched items.
Each piece pays tribute to the powerful, yet often unsung role of female ancestry found in the many traditions that constitute South African culture. Historically, women are viewed as the initiators and custodians of culture. these works provide a space for this collective, woman sung culture, acknowledging the rightful role of women in a patriarchal world, where so often their creations are seen but the artist remains hidden.
These works conceived in ecru, ivory and earth tones, show the inspiration of patterns and shapes found in the visually and symbolically rich cultures of indigenous South Africans. They seamlessly incorporate elements from the visual symbols found in the wall paintings and beadwork of the Ndebele, Islamic prayer mats, the marital aprons of isiXhosa, Zulu earplugs and beer pots, the spiritual patterns of sacred geometry, sewing and crocheting techniques associated with my own Afrikaans culture and elements from my Portuguese ancestry.
While the cultures may be very different they all share a strong sense of the geometric. My focus and challenge is finding the similarity in diversity and to take these disparate threads and combine them in a unique way.
I call my artworks ‘light relief”. It is created from an air-drying clay medium which is rolled out until paper thin to create a delicate bass relief sculpture. Using unusual sculpting tools such as toothpicks and needles, the damp surface of the clay is scored with indents, holes and incisions. The clay medium is manipulated to be as thin as possible, pushing it to its breaking point and encouraging it to warp in the process. This warping quality is unique to the each artwork and unplanned.
Although our cultures are very different, they all share a strong sense of geometry and design. With my work I invite the viewer to celebrate the many similarities found in our diverse cultures rather than amplifying the differences.
South African artist Jo Roets’s background is in the film industry where she worked as an artist in the art department. She also had a fulltime lecturing career, lecturing in painting, prosthetics, special effects, props fabrication, sculpting, mould-making and casting at a multimedia film school. In 2017, after 14 years as a senior lecturer, Jo exchanged her lecturing apron for one of a full time artist.
Jo is a recovering alcoholic. This year she celebrated her 5th year of sobriety. Her courage to embrace sobriety and follow her creative drive are deeply intertwined. In the early days of her recovery program Jo met a diverse range people from all walks of life – all with the same condition. Her work is born from a profound recognition that although our circumstances differ, essentially we all share a common humanity. Her artworks are a deep celebration of this recognition.
In 2018, Jo’s work was selected for three other prominent art competitions:
Sasol New Signatures, Pretoria Art Museum (finalist); Tollman Bouchard Finlayson Art Award Barrel Head Exhibition, Hermanus (finalist) and Vuleka, Art.B Gallery, Bellville (finalist).
She was also announced as the winner of the inaugural StateoftheART Gallery Award in 2018 and had her first solo exhibition in May 2019 at StateoftheART Gallery.