Artists We Love: Jo Roets

WORDS Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Jo Roets

Jo Roets’ most recent solo exhibition entitled MURG consisted of 22 clay sculptural works inspired by bones and the history and biology behind these body parts.

“Since childhood, I’ve had a deep love for bones. Perhaps it was the excitement of looking for them and finding them. I am not sure why this enchantment with bones is so strong in me,” the Capetonian artist explains. “Maybe it’s because they are reminders of our mortality – the impermanence of life and a return to earth after death.”

Jo calls the process of her art-making “light relief sculpture – based on how she adapts her medium, air drying clay which is rolled out into paper-thin segments and then built upon each other. She then uses tools to score the forms with patterns, holes, indentations and incisions.

Jo Roets

“My initial thoughts for this body of work was focused on fossilised bones. But art-making is an organic process, and plans can easily move in a different direction. A gut feeling surfaced and the phrase “Ek voel dit in die murg van my bene” became a mantra in the back of my mind. From this, the work for this exhibition grew,” she elaborates on the process.

READ MORE: 4 Local Ceramicists We Love

The concept behind the exhibition is not related to being scientifically correct but represents a metaphorical search for a feeling. “My process raised questions like – Seeing that we have captured DNA images, what would our gut feeling look like if we could capture it visually?” Jo asks. “And would everyone’s gut DNA look the same or would some be more intricate than others? Why do some of us trust our gut and why are some oblivious to this powerful tool? Is this because following one’s gut is not always a comfortable experience? How much of this power do we give over to a higher power rather than honouring our own intuition?”

Cracks and engravings on some works represent the ancient language of oracle bones and their relation to predictions, while the gold leaf on some works gives a nod to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery with gold.

The exhibition can be viewed online via her website, here.

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