Janet Botes is a visual artist currently based in Cape Town. Born and raised in Vanderbijlpark, she attained her BTech qualification in Graphic Design (Cum Laude) at the Vaal University of Technology. She has worked and lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria and finally Cape Town as graphic designer and artist, exhibiting regularly in group exhibitions and getting involved in various creative projects and initiatives.
She has contributed and participated in numerous workshops, exhibitions and initiatives including VANSA (Visual Arts Network of South Africa), Greatmore Studios, Wessel Snyman Creative, the 350 movement, and the Sangisa Sangisa art collective. In 2012 she curated and organized the Green Art exhibition at the Green Expo, and she is one of the invited artists for the 2013 Site_Specific International Land Art Biennale.
2013 | Hiernamaals | Hereafter at Slee Gallery, Stellenbosch, during Woordfees 2013.
2012 | (eco)nversations | GREEN ART 2012. As part of the Green Expo, CTICC.
2012 | Walk This Earth Alone at Gallery @ Grande Provence, Franschhoek.
2012 | SAND(SPOOR] an interactive installation and performance, Arts Lounge, National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.
2012 | HumanEarth III: First Material group exhibition, US Gallery, during University of Stellenbosch’s Woordfees 2012.
2011 | Scrapes & Scapes. Artists: Mark Shaun Hopkins & Janet Botes at Bodutu Gallery, Vaal University of Technology, Vanderbijlpark.
2010 | Dare to Dream in silent moments at Wessel Snyman Creative, Cape Town.
2010 | VAN-Guard Winelands Group Exhibition at Durbanville Hills, Western Cape.
2009 | State of Mind Group Exhibition & Live Art event, VANSA Spin Space, Cape Town.
2009 | Sangisa Sangisa Group Exhibition & performance art VANSA Spin Space, Cape Town.
2008 | Unified: Unpretty, Unclean, Underneath, Unnatural Eat Your Words Artspace, Vereeniging.
2008 | Between the lines at Gallery at Duncan Yard, Hatfield, Pretoria.
What is your favourite film of all time?
The Crow – the original 1994 one with Brandon Lee.
What music are you currently listening to and why?
Depending on my mood, I listen to Depeche Mode or South African rock bands like Knave, Straw, Wickhead and Namuh. I have loved Depeche Mode's music since my art teacher in high school played it in class while we were drawing, and I support local music in the same way that I would like people to support local visual artists.
Which living artists do you most admire and why?
Strijdom van der Merwe and Andy Goldworthy for their Land Art, in which they work extensively in landscapes and use natural materials to create transient work. I also admire Berni Searle, Lien Botha, Christiaan Diedericks, Willem Boshoff and Wim Botha all for the visual intricacies in their work as well as their interaction and apt interpretation of their mediums and concepts, whether it be performative (Searle), photographic (Lien Botha), drawing-based (Diedericks), language-focused (Boshoff) or responding to religious practices (Wim Botha).
Which deceased artist do you most admire and why?
While my favourite living artists are all local, my favourite deceased artists are internationl, including Mark Rothko for his experimentations with colour, Toulouse-Lautrec for the way he expressed and interpreted his subject matter, Degas for his masterly use of pastels, and Joseph Buyes for his ground-breaking avant garde work which relied on interaction and public participation.
Which exhibition that you have visited made the greatest impact on you and why?
When I was 16 we visited the Millenium Gallery in Pretoria as a school trip, where I first saw the work of Christiaan Diedericks, a series of portraits that integrated the thoughts of the person as typography or text above the head of the person – it could have been self portraits, and I can't remember the title of the exhibition, but I think that was one of the moments in my life that I really KNEW that I wanted to be an established artist when I grow up.
What is the question you get asked most frequently about your work and how do you answer it?
I am often asked what medium I use and prefer, and because I work in a variety of media and techniques, it usually sparks a long conversation or monologue about mixed media, photography, Land Art, collage, drawing and the advantages of mixing your mediums.
What/ who inspired you to be an artist?
I was lucky to have great art teachers at school, Lientjie Barnard and Thea Luus, who made Art History interesting and inspiring. They exposed me to the work of European, American as well as South African artists that inspired me and fed my passion for art that started to form while in primary school. I remember going to art classes at Alteljee Cecil in Vanderbijlpark when I was about 11 years old. I also remember going to dance classes at about 7 years old, really loving it, and being very disappointed when the dance teacher moved to another town.
Can you tell us about where you make your art and what if any, the significance of this location is
I love working in the landscape, whether I'm drawing/painting my immediate surroundings or working with the actual materials and objects in the landscape. There is a sense of closeness, reality and also peace when working in nature. That closeness to the creation, and involvement in the process also extends to my work in the studio, as I love applying paint with my fingers and getting as close as possible to the artwork. This is also a motivation for some of my current work where my body and the act of creation becomes part of the work.
What do you like most about being an artist?
The freedom to follow your urges, to experiment and to explore, while not being confined by limitations set by others.
What is your greatest achievement as an artist to date?
It might not seem like such a big achievement, but my migration from a graphic designer doing the bidding of clients towards a full time artist who creates and expresses and follows my whims and passion is the biggest and best thing that I have achieved up to now.
What are your plans for the coming year?
I would like to have my first solo exhibition, but have it in three parts, in three different places – Vanderbijlpark, Cape Town, and Pretoria or Upington. This of course means traveling, and while on residency in an area I would do some interactive work as well as create new artworks. I'm also planning to do more art in the landscape around the Cape Peninsula, and link in my art into meaningful collaborations with organizations and groups that raise awareness for environmental concerns.