Judy cropped
Judy, aged 10. Drawing from a photograph.

I am an artist working from my home studio in Porto, the beautiful port city in the North of Portugal. My apartment overlooks the mighty Douro river with a view towards the sea. I moved to Portugal in 2019 from South Africa, where I lived in Johannesburg. I am still exploring Porto, and learning to love it. I miss Johannesburg’s brilliant light and abrupt, dramatic thunderstorms. The light in Porto is softer, variable and more subtle. I am learning the language of clouds.

My art explores how to represent abstract and complex concepts using colour and shape. People appear to have an innate ability to relate to and understand shape and colour and I am interested in the limits of this visual language, particularly in the expression of abstract and complex concepts like love, connectedness and energy. I am synesthetic and I experience colour as tactile. Feelings and physical sensations are coloured in my world. I use this sense to relate colour to shapes, texture and emotions.

I trained as a mathematician, which is essentially an aesthetic discipline and requires being able to picture abstract concepts. Mathematicians think in diagrams that abstract out the essence of complex concepts into spatial forms. My work was in topology, the study of shapes, and in algebra which includes ways of coding and analysing symmetry. The shapes, symmetry and mental puzzles of Escher were an early influence, although they lacked the essential element of colour. I have worked in developing complex computer systems as well as managing businesses and doing academic research. These pursuits have all developed my sense of complexity and how components inter-relate to form a whole.

I have an extensive education, but none of it in art. Rather I have learned through short courses in drawing and painting, and through years of practice. I have found books and online videos useful in learning about media and techniques, but nothing beats experience when it comes to developing the muscle memory that is used in drawing and painting and the sense of how medium and substrate interact. Experimenting, repetition, making mistakes, facing problems and working out solutions are all part of my on-going practice.

I was about twelve years old and drawing pictures of my younger sisters when I first became aware of the deep sense of joy that I got from being able to make what I saw come alive on paper. There was something thrilling and deeply satisfying about drawing. This same deep sense of joy is still what drives me. There is a wonderful freedom in going into my studio and doing what I feel like doing. I work on themes that bring structure to my practice and allow me to explore specific shapes, concepts and media in depth. Recent themes include Mandalas, Lockdown Faces and Trees.

I grew up in a household where art was considered a frivolous waste of time. At school, to my great frustration, I was not allowed to enrol for the art classes and was steered towards science. Despite these obstacles I noticed, when I packed my studio in Johannesburg, that art has been a constant in my life, with a vast output accumulated over years, much of which could not emigrate with me. I am enjoying working on new themes with new inspiration.

My art is for sale. Click here for more information or contact me.