Amanda Jephson - Fine Artist - South Africa


I have been making art since a child and my first 'celebrated' piece was a stage-set design, adapted from drawings I did aged 4, seated next to my mother's drawing table, while she struggled to draw a tree, a chimney and a large old shoe with windows and doors for the Audrey King ballet "Nursery Nonsense" created to the music of Elgar. I had a clear vision of what a child's version should be and my drawings were swept up with my mother's words "That's it!" and transformed into very bright, large painted stage sets in and out of which we ballet children danced and while enthralling the audience with nursey nonsenses of rings around roses and the old woman who lived in a shoe.

Growing up in an artistic family with a successful artist aunt (Andrea Desmond-Smith) and a famous artist great-aunt (Nerine Desmond) provided me with two important mentors who were independant, were women, and were South African artists. My paternal grandmother was also an accomplished graphic designer, illustrating early British 20th century department store childrens clothing catalogues and my paternal grandfather an engineer, designer and draftman was the vice chairman of the Transvaal Arts Society for 15 years and chairman for 2 years.

Both my parents were both artistic and besides designing 3 of my childhood homes, my mother, Toni Jephson, designed ballet sets and costumes for Audrey King Children's Ballet School and for the Johannesburg Youth Ballet, the first multiracial ballet school in South Africa founded by Audrey King in 1974. She was also a watercolourist and taught me the technique of wet on wet water colour technique. My father David Jephson, was a mechanical and electrical engineer and he could draw anything from his imagination, be it a horse, a boat or complex engineering systems. Both my parents instilled in me a deep and pervasive love of art, literature, ballet, music and culture, as well as a love and respect of wildlife, animals and the natural environment.

My fate hence sealed, I first worked in advertising as a graphic artist , and then studied fine art with a Masters Degree from Michaelis, UCT. Along with fine art I worked in academia as a lecturer at UCT in Cultural History of Western Europe, lecturing the history of western culture in the visual arts, architecture, music, literature, philosophy and science . Later I became a lecturer in History of Art at UCT, teaching the art and architecture of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism the Impressionists, Neo Impressionists, Fauves, Exressionists, Cubism and Modernism.

As a fine artist I presently practice traditional, "low-tech" methods of art production of drawing, painting, intaglio relief printmaking and sculpture. Paints and graphic mediums I use include oil and acrylic painting, ink, graphite, mixed drawing mediums and printmaking techniques. Paper sculpture has been a recurrent fascination of mine, ever since making papier mache cats, age 10, in Nina Cambell-Quinne's classes at her Hyde Park children's studio. I use hand painted paper as a sculptural medium to create costumed cats and ballet dancers.

Works on canvas, paper and board include a wide range of subjects from landscapes, still life, animals, portraits to figurative elements.

My landscapes are inspired by the rural surroundings of the farm I live on outside Baardskeerdersbos in the Southern Overberg, and other far flung places such as the Scottish Highlands, with agrarian and mountanous landscapes , fynbos and bracken flora, the Overberg coast and the Scottish loch with vernacular Cape and croft farm architecture. Both places have similar wide open landscapes filled with dappled light, clouds and sky, bodies of water,of damns or lakes, flat green or rising mountainous landscapes with wind blown bushes and trees, and small vernacular buildings of worn down brick, mud or stone, inhabited by agrarian people and animals embodying rustic farm life that is endlessly peaceful and at one with its countryside.

The genre of still life is a painting convention I use to convey more intimate and personal themes, with objects from the domestic environment, found artefacts such as discarded pottery shards and bones collected on the farm.

As a passionate animal lover there are many inspirational beasts on the farm, cats, chickens geese, cows and donkeys which provide an endless source of subject matter. Birds, wild life and natural objects, have also inspired me since I can remember from my earliest drawings and watercolours at age 14 to the present.

I paint portraits of friends and people of interest and have more recently included figurative elements into my work.

In 2020/21 I participated in painting workshops with Greg Kerr and have been doing more experimental work with paintings derived from charcoal and collage drawings.

Distinctive qualities of my work include strong, expressive colours, rhythmic, lyrical line and form, contrasting tones and vibrant mark making. I continuously evolve and change my work and move through different styles and subjects. The most consistent style of my work is a semi-realism with overtones of Post-Impressionism, the Fauves and Nabis.

Currently I am exploring the versatile qualities of paper sculpture . The use of paper for sculpture has long been a favourite medium of mine as it satisfies both the sculptural and the painterly. Works include playful and whimsical characters of cat figures dressed in costumes inspired by 18th century made out of hand painted paper.
Ballet has been ever present in my life and the exploration of paper as a sculptural medium has developed into recent works of costumed ballet figures of the Ballet Russe made of handpainted paper. These are set in a theatre with paper sets and backdrops, curtains and decorative features also of painted paper.

I am currently combining art and psychology for a Master in Psychology which explores through the visual arts experiences of Xhosa migrant women who have experienced gender-based- violence and suicidal behaviour.

I am a Stage 4 breast cancer survivor (MBC) for which I am receiving chemotherapy.

To view my work please click on each Portfolio section.

Please also visit the Links page to see more!

As a founder member of the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route I exhibited on the art route from its inception in 2008 to 2020. I currently exhibit at my farm studio/ gallery and also sell my work online from this web site and Instagram. Please contact me via the Contact page if you would like to find out more about my work. I sell locally and internationally and I am happy to ship anywhere internationally at very reasonable postage rates, My works are in private collections in South Africa, the United Kingdom, Germany, Holland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

Thank you for visiting my web site.

Exhibitions
1979 Gallery 709 Cape Town - Exhibition of Drawings and Mixed Media
1998 Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, Group Exhibition
1999-2001 Greyton Art Gallery, Group Exhibition
2003 Summer Salon, Hout Street Gallery, Paarl
2002 Stanford Group Exhibition
2008 Napier Gallery Group Exhibition
2010 Stanford Art Cafe Group Exhibition
2013 Muse Exhibition, Casa Labia Galley, Cape Town
2014 Bredasdorp Gallery Group Exhibition
2008- 2019 Baardskeerdersbos Art Route –
Bi Annual Exhibitions at the Stables Studio, Assegaai Bosch Farm, Baardskeerbersbos.

Awards
1980 Class Medalist: Cultural History of Western Europe I
1981 MacIver Scholarship
Twamley Scholarship
C.G.Saker Scholarship
Class Medalist: Cultural History of Western Europe II
1982 MacIver Scholarship
Twamley Scholarship
C.G.Saker Scholarship
Class Medalist: Cultural History of Western Europe III
1983 MacIver Scholarship
Twamley Scholarship
C.G.Saker Scholarship
1984 MacIver Scholarship
Twamley Scholarship
C.G.Saker Scholarship
UCT Post Graduate Scholarship
Human Sciences Research Council Bursary
Harry Oppenheimer Travel Grant
1985 UCT Post Graduate Scholarship
Human Sciences Research Council Bursary
Jules Kramer Grant
Harry Oppenheimer Travel Grant
1986 UCT Post Graduate Scholarship
Human Sciences Research Council Bursary
Harry Crossley Overseas Travel Grant
Jules Kramer Grant
Harry Oppenheimer Travel Grant
1988 MacIver Scholarship
1992 Merit Award Student in Landscape Design
1993 Best Student Award in Landscape Design
1994 Best Student Award in Landscape Design
Van Elden Prize National Diploma Landscape Technology

Publications
Interview with William Kentridge, ADA Magazine No 4, 1987
Bongiwe Dhlomo- Printmaker, ADA Magazine No 5, 1988
Tarting Up the Transitional, ADA Magazine No 5, 1988
Iijondolo: Black and White in Gold, review article of Echoes of South African Art by Matsemela Manaka (1987 Skotoville Press)
Co-author review article of Art of the South African Townships, by Gavin Younge, ADA Magazine No 6 1989
FUBA Academy, Johannesburg, ADA Magazine No 6 1989
Rorke’s Drift ELC Art and Craft Centre- Origins and Overview, Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town 1990
Paint and Popular Texture: Making South African Art and Its History Accessible, review article of 150 South African Paintings by Lucy Alexander and Evelyn Cohen (1990 Struikof), ADA Magazine No 9, 1990.