Artists We Love: Katherine Spindler


Teacher-slash-lecturer-slash-artist Katherine Spindler’s latest solo exhibition, To Hold Time, is on display at the Barnard Gallery, Cape Town. She shares how she chose its title and what inspires her work.

How did you develop your technique and style?

I trained as a printmaker during undergrad. While I didn’t end up making many prints, I worked with paper and light to animate works and create immersive environments. Once I cut a 70 m fishing net, suspended it from the ceiling, and animated it with a moving light that cast shadows on the walls as though one was underwater. I treat my paintings in a similar way: I want them to be evocative and suggestive rather than clearly defined in their reading. I spend a lot of time blurring edges, erasing, layering and glazing.

What inspires you?

The process of making. Years ago I was fortunate enough to be in a masterclass with William Kentridge at Michaelis School of Fine Art. As he described his process, I jotted down a list of instructions that have become a guiding light for me: Start with an idea. Make it. See what it suggests. Work with the suggestion. Many of my paintings started off as something else entirely.

How do you choose your subject matter?

I constantly gather images from a variety of sources – photographs, magazines, newspapers, online. Mostly I search intuitively without clearly defined parameters. Finding the “right” image (in relation to source material or on the painting substrate) is like searching for a needle in a haystack for me.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

From childhood I only ever wanted to be a teacher or an artist. It was a conversation with Elaine Rumboll at UCT’s GSB (Graduate School of Business) a few years ago that helped me to see how I could be both; that the two worlds enrich one other. I like the idea of “slash careers”, and am convinced that working across disciplines makes one’s life and work more interesting.

If you could collaborate with any South African artist who would it be?

In addition to being an artist, I am also an educator and have taught at secondary and tertiary levels. I have been very privileged to work closely with Katherine Bull over the years. She’s an extraordinary artist and magnificent educator, and together we have created some exciting drawing projects, often collaborating with other artists, curators, musicians and poets in educational spaces. Katherine and I have plans to continue to collaborate in a similar regard in the future.

Which one of your pieces means the most to you?

One of my earliest paintings, entitled Waiting for Samuel, of my dear friend who was expecting her first son. The painting was on show at my previous solo exhibition Selah (2015) at Barnard Gallery.

How did you come up with the title of the new collection, To Hold Time?

I made a series of text-based collages for the show. One of them carries the words “to hold time” and seemed to evoke the sentiment behind the works for me.

Visit Katherine’s exhibition at the Barnard Gallery, 55 Main Street, Newlands, Cape Town until 24 October 2017. You can also check out her site.