Michael Stopforth and Jotam Schoeman are two Pretoria-based illustrators who have combined markings and medium for your viewing pleasure to be exhibited at the Trent Gallery on Friday, the 6th of February. The exhibition is a continuation of the Bedoelende Stad Studies series, started by Jotam. I got to talk to them about the bigger picture.

DYD: What draws you guys to the Pretoria inner city? Why draw there and not anywhere else?
Jotam: The old – the origin – the cultural core that used to be Church Square. The architecture is melodic and the sculptures are true masterpieces. The juxtaposition of the new – the people, seemingly ignorant of the past – moving through this context is something that is highly entertaining.

DYD: Which other local artists do you draw inspiration from? Which illustrators are sharp and which ones are sketchy? Who’s next exhibition should we pen into our diaries?
Michael: I really enjoy Gerhard van Wyk‘s work. It’s designed, whimsical and energetic. I once saw a mock-up of a collaboration he did with Jaco van der Merwe that had a spicy and, I dare say, pungent local sauciness that I’d do something embarrassing to see more of.

And of course, the queen of gouache scrimshaw: Nina Torr. Bless that lady and her whales.

DYD: Could you give a rough outline of how your background as an Afrikaans person influences your work? Do the markings of your past come through in your work and choice of subject?
Jotam: I try to pivot my work around the widening of my own awareness. So to learn about my heritage is something that interests me greatly. Then we have this re-writing of identity happening – young Afrikaans people are often not keen to be labelled as such – so we have this moment in time that is an integration of the present with local as well as global influence. The ‘mengelmoes’ of cultures is a beautiful and exciting process and I embrace every minute – but I do so knowing that my ancestry is Afrikaans. And being anchored in that knowing gives me a very unique card to play. I love it.

DYD: How are we going to draw larger crowds to exhibitions in Pretoria? When do you think we could have a picture in every home?
Jotam: The people I interact with always seem excited to hear of an upcoming exhibition. Artists should compare themselves to athletes – to be able to give your best you have to work at it every day – keep production fit and strong. I’d like to thank Fred Clarke for that – in the past he coached me like this. And it’s something every artist needs to hear. Sit your ass down and graft.

Michael: Bigger venues. Fuller-bodied Bouquets. Cheesier cheeses. But mostly, just art that communicates. My Hoërskool Afrikaans teacher Mr. Hans Moolman told me once that my poetry was so up its own sassafras that it never attempted to be intelligible. I have since tried being less pretentious.

Also, Facebook Event Calendar. Thank you Stuart Trent for social mediaing so good.

DYD: Complete the sentence: Before the year draws to an end I would have achieved..
Jotam: The completion of a graphic novel that is also a film, an exhibition and also a backdrop for a live music set.

Michael: Learning to groove with Drawing again. For a while I lost my love for you, but baby, I ain’t never gonna let you go again. Shoop Doo wah.

Go check the Facebook Event by clicking here.

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