Q&A With Artist Amy Ayanda

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES Shavan Rahim


Multi-talented Amy Ayanda is a singer, songwriter, artist and mother. Her first solo exhibition I love plants so much, which runs until January 2017 at the Ground Art Caffe in Cape Town, celebrates womanhood in a vivid splash of colour and mixed media. We caught up with her to find out more.

Why the name I love plants so much? 

I decided to go with something less serious for this body of work, particularly because there is so much pressure and stress that comes with being a mother and adapting to that whole new way of living. I had a more serious title, but it quickly changed. I realised my work wasn’t speaking about the seriousness of feminism but was rather bringing in the beauty and messiness of becoming a woman and a mother. I wanted to highlight the banal parts of womanhood. But I really do love plants, a lot. 

Explain your work for this exhibition in three words.

Transformative, bright and messy.

Do you have a favourite piece?

I do. It’s titled money mountain (nipple) and is the smallest piece in the collection. Originally it was a collage that read “it’s a girl” in price labels made from junk mail I collected, but then I began layering it more and it just didn’t stop. You can hardly see the collage underneath now. I enjoy it because I really felt that feeling shift inside when I began not caring about the outcome of it.

How do you express femininity in your work?

I have incorporated a lot of nipples, plastic and glass beads, yonic symbols, flowers, tears, stars, stretch marks, moons and sun symbols in my work. These all speak a lot to me as a woman. I just had fun with it. I usually feel like I make my work very dark and emotive, but this was just a fun process of stick and paste for me; I didn’t want it to be something too deep.

What is your biggest artistic achievement?

This body of work, actually. It’s the most honest I have been with my process in a long time.

What does a typical day in the life of Amy look like? When do you find time to paint with a little baby?

We get woken up around six and I feed Frankie, she drifts off again and we manage to get another half hour or so. I drop Frankie at her gran on my way to my office job and Dean my partner takes the train to work. We are all home by six and make dinner together and eat. Frankie and I have a bath session then get dressed and lie down together until she drifts off. Dean will lie with her until she is out and I go down to my studio to paint.

Although your paintings are seemingly abstract you pull elements from your life into your paintings… 

I think it’s almost impossible not to. Your surroundings and personal experiences are after all your best reference, if nothing else.

Who do you think we should keep an eye on locally?

Alexia Vogel creates absolutely beautiful dreamy landscapes; I am also loving Mia Chaplin’s work as well as the work of Oliviè Keck!

What are you planning to do next?

Currently, I am in the process of launching Amy Ayanda Studios, which is a range of overalls and decor for the creative space and lifestyle. All my textiles are hand-painted and locally made. I am also launching an album which will be out next year, as well as planning a small musical tour.

Follow Amy on Facebook or visit her Instagram to see more of her work.