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Belinda Blignaut

Artist's Work

Energy Cannot Be Lost, Only Transformed And Given Shape

    Work introduction

    Belinda Blignaut "Working From The Inside" artist statment


    From my work processes with earth as my medium, including my years of facilitating classes for people with special needs, arose a series of performances titled “Working From The Inside”. With clay, on psychological levels, I find we're simultaneously working as much internally as externally. I work from the inside of a large scale vessels as I build, making a second skin around myself, shaping the clay as it shapes me, both myself and vessel pushed and pulled to limits. This experience is somewhere been wrestling and allowing the clay to find its own form. Raw clay is malleable and working with it requires listening in many ways. Blignaut, in collaboration with musician hashtag_blacknoise, records the sounds of the making process from digging clay to the making of the work with a microphone on the inside, an earthy heartbeat with noise. This audio accompanies the live performance. 


    'Working From The Inside' first began in Dec 2016 and has been performed many times in various places including 'Blank' and 'Smac' Galleries, Cape Town's Zeitz MOCAA, Edge of Wrong Experimental Music Festival, Norway and Vienna. 


    For the viewer, this translates the transformations of a material filled with memory and a history of millions of years, in a constant state of flux until the final stages where mud is changed to stone through intense heat. For Blignaut, this is a fight to surrender, to be transformed every single time by going as far as possible into unknown territory, until the clay vessel breaks, working from the inside and outside simultaneously. A bit like dancing, balancing, wrestling, a lot like life


    Artist Biography

    Emerging in the early 1990s, Belinda Blignaut (b.1968, South Africa) was one of the group of young conceptual and experimental artists in Johannesburg 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 suggests an urgency for protest and social change. 


    Through varied series over decades, she has been processing issues around transformation, with the body at the centre of all. Through an engagement with the most everyday materials she hopes to translate the ways we adapt and communicate, a quiet visceral investigation into life and the creative process.


    Her more recent work takes her interest in materiality as a metaphor for psychological transformation into a series of sculptural clay vessels. The 'vessel' to Blignaut, represents bodies, our bodies. In looking to create from a deeper source, she began working with earth. Digging her own wild clay and sourcing pigments, she allows for chance, unknowns and natural reactions of matter in intense heat and fire. She translates psychologies of people and place in each piece, seeking complex surfaces and celebrating imperfection through transformations in this honest and raw terrain.