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Carol Preston – Merit Winner 2017

Sasol New Signatures

Where does your passion for art come from? 

My passion for art comes from a basic human instinct to be quiet, to think and mentally wonder. My art is my interpretation and a visual record of the encounters I have on my thinking expeditions.

Briefly describe your artistic journey up and until the point of entering Sasol New Signatures?

From the beginning of my formal education, I realised that I would not instantly know how to draw, paint or sculpt. It has been a long, enjoyable journey of trial and error, practice and constant correction and adjustment, to refine and perfect my ability to capture a moment, a sensation, or even something as blatant as an object or figure. My determination to try and achieve this lead to a Diploma in Fine Art teaching at the Pretoria Technikon. I feel particularly at home in the sculpture studio and this is the zone where some magical, mental and technical process takes place. I have tried not to neglect the other techniques and genres and have painted under Leon Fourie’s studio guidance and that of Michelle Kriek and Taryn Miller of the Fine Arts Studio in Rivonia, Johannesburg. 
At present, I am furthering my creative abilities at the University of Pretoria.

What motivated you to enter the Sasol New Signatures competition?

The artist’s lifeblood is the public’s response to his/her work. Interaction with the public is vital. The SNS is one of the most enduring and well respected of all the South African fine art competitions. It aligns itself with the letter and the spirit of the South African Constitution by not marginalising any group in any way. The judging is rigorous and fair with numerous checks and balances put in place to make sure that the outcome is unbiased and inclusive. All the artist has to do is adhere to the basic requirements clearly communicated. It is a new artist’s perfect way to establish a platform for his/her art and to be comprehensively introduced in one thorough debut.

Sasol New Signatures
Carol Anne Preston | Cocoon

What excites you about the creative process? 

You have to be very present in the whole creative process and have no preconceptions. For the artist to be present does not necessarily mean that he/she has to have complete control. I have to shift my position. I have to clear my mind and be quiet. The artwork guides the creative process. It is vital for the artist to have an intention and follow a process. The process can have an element of frustration because a good artist does not necessarily know where he/she is going. The artwork must not be beaten into submission. I try to work with the material and allow the life to come through. The artist must not be too rigid about a certain outcome. Stand back from time to time. A visual creative statement is like poetry, imply it, and don’t beat the life out of it. If the artwork is not too emphatic it will attract attention with its mystery and metaphysical dimension.
At the moment my artwork has very little recognisable content. There is nothing visually recognisable for you to latch on to, no back, front, no eyes, nose or mouth. You should not know what you are looking at! Then you will automatically have no option but to turn to your other senses for interpretation. I, as the artist, want to create a sense of harmony and well -being for the audience. I present the audience with no frame of reference and I try not to impose too many interpretational guides. What the audience senses is of immense fascination to me.

Tell us about your preferred medium/ and why? 

Metal is my preferred medium. It is majestic and unearthly. For me, this material has a spiritual frequency. I do not work with formal formats and ratios, but at the same time, my response to the medium is not organic. There are many different ways to experience this medium. The poetry in metal is not to beat it into submission. That will make it uncompromising, uncooperative and cold. Listen to the medium. To make something beautiful an artist has to negotiate with it and listen to it. I collected metal shavings of various metals from numerous engineering waste bins. My sculpture has something to say. It has a metaphysical dimension, an elusive state that is enclosed in the cocoon shape. It is covert, brutal and revolutionary, it is not telling you anything loudly, but it beckons you closer to listen to it. The different metal shavings have an exquisite, tonal tactility, a luminosity. It is up to the viewer to hear! Placement is vital. I used a diagonal slant purposely and placed the cocoon in an open cage. Presentation is uncluttered so that you can sense the intention clearly.

Sasol New Signatures
Carol Anne Preston | Cocoon detail

If you could summarise your work in three independent words, what would they be? 

Transformation, Change, Migration

Did this competition teach you anything about yourself? 

The response from the audience taught me that an honest and sincere artwork from anyone can evoke curiosity, interest and create and brand an artist. It also taught me that marketing an artist’s work is a vitally important activity that must be focused and well researched just like one would do for any other product or service.
Branding and promotion of an artist is not a narcissistic activity to be avoided, nor is it an unnecessary commercialisation of the artist and I am grateful for this opportunity.

Which local artists do you admire? 

Dion Cupido  (Coloured In. 2016 and Fanta Blikkie. 2015).
Ronald Muchatuta (White Hair Line, 2015)
 Carl Jeppe’s drawings.
Berco Wilsenach

What are you currently working on/ what is next for you as an artist? 

I am working on a capsule of aluminum epoxy mesh and light and the audience’s response thereto.

What impact would winning this competition have on you? 

Any level of exposure from a company like Sasol, The Association of Arts and the empathetic art loving public will give me and my fellow finalists the incentive to keep evoking what we sense is beautiful.

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