Susanna Swart was born in Pretoria in 1967. In 1989 she graduated from the University of Pretoria with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree majoring in sculpture and visual communication.
In 1994, after having pursued a four year apprenticeship at the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in New Jersey, USA, Susanna received her technical certifications in all aspects of foundry work. She also gained valuable experience in working with various materials including bronze alloys, mild and stainless steels, aluminium, cupro-nickel, cast iron and silver.
After working for two years in Belgium, Susanna returned to South Africa and now produces sculpture that encompasses her love of the land and its people. The veld, its metaphysical beings, and the ancient mysteries of Africa are reflected in her work.
Susanna has been active in showing, guest lecturing, judging and curating competitions in South Africa. She has been awarded the ABSA/Association of the Arts (Pretoria) Medal for Achievement for contribution to the arts.
Her sculptures are in private collections worldwide and in the last few years completed commissions for the Development Bank of South Africa, the National Archives R.S.A. North-West University , Aardvark Award for Theatre 2012; and the ATKV Awards for the Stellenbosch Woordfees (language festival) as well as the Media and Author’s “Veertjie ” Feather Awards.
She has collaborated with painter Lynette ten Krooden and the school students in the Cool Capital Project 2014 and produced a Stainless Steel tree for Oos-Moot High School.
“Spiritual and emotional elements are embodied by the visual aspects in my work. Such characteristics are intended to function as primal memory triggers opening forgotten internal dialogues within the viewer.”
Mission Statement – Sculptor Susanna Swart
During the sacred hours of the night,
Metaphysical images of angels and earth-like beings
fill my soul.
Their healing powers trace the spaces between my imaginings,
As they sing a song older than the African soil
Upon which I dream.
The above poem reflects my visual vocabulary. My sculptural images are drawn from a soul-deep connection with the earth and its myriad variations of beauty. I find the mystery of the landscape, particularly that of Africa, to reflect all the hopes, dreams and aspirations of humankind.
In my work, I try to convey the feelings invoked by the memories of natural forms. Rock formations become sacred temples, trees dancing figures and the pounding surf a visual rhythm in which to become lost. These images produce a palette of emotions that run unchecked when one is alone in nature. I endeavour to utilise these images to conjure the same emotions with my art.
The emotions I particularly try to explore are tranquillity, stillness, protection and that deep yearning we all have to belong. One can find those feelings in nature easily while viewing a sunset over the ocean, or witnessing a storm crossing the veld. However, we lose that connection and belonging in everyday life. Cut off from nature and her cycles, we often forget to create a sacred space for ourselves.
My figurative works reflect the archetypal, mother earth figures in her cycles as protector, provider, and nurturer. The use of winged beings I call “African Angels” become the visual personification of our need to link with a “guide, protector our higher Self ” always there to assist us in our life’s journeys.
My non-figurative works draw on the same images as my figurative works, however they play less on the earth archetypes and more upon the human viewers archetypal responses. In both styles of my work, the consistency of my visual vocabulary links the viewer back to the earth and eventually back to their own sacred spaces within themselves.
To convey my feelings of ongoing cycles, my chosen media are bronze and stainless steel, The warm, earthy metal bronze is produced and moulded through an intensive birth process of sweat and fire. The process itself is an art form and adds another dimension to the created works. The medium lends itself to a juxtaposition of textures, smooth planes and crisp lines draw the eye, while rough textures continue to move the viewer around the sculpture.
The fabricated/ forged stainless steel works are very suitable for outdoor pieces and compliment a garden due to their abstract organic designs. The earth will outlast me and so will my sculptures, the cycles of birth and re-birth will continue.