In conversation with: Karoo artist Sally Arnold

We invited Karoo artist and designer Sally Arnold to collaborate on the first in a series of guest artist creations, using our organic coffee table on which to express her appreciation for botanical subjects.

Intricate detailing of the Cape Water Lily or Nymphea Capensis in pewter and toned cements has created a wonderful, function and one-of-a-kind work of masterpiece.

We chatted to Sally Arnold about her creation for AVOOVA and inspiration behind the design.

Tell us a bit about your style as an artist?

Drawing forms the basis of my work. Through practice, and from regularly looking at the work of exceptional artists, I’ve found that whatever I do artistically must be constructed through drawing. I’m interested in realist as well as styled interpretations of what’s currently grabbing my attention. Design plays a huge part.

Tell us about your work with AVOOVA, and the recent project you collaborated on?

Being entrusted with two projects for AVOOVA in recent years has been a privileged experience, both from a design as well as a technical perspective. The Blue (Cape) Lotus design for the undulating surfaces of the latest coffee table grew out of the search for a dynamic and graphic botanical imagery, which is both highly stylised and technically specific. A wonderful challenge for me, in close collaboration with the super skilled AVOOVA artisans.

Can you expand on your love for botanical art, and how you’re seeing this becoming an ever-popular theme around the world?

Growing up in the vast expanse of the Great Karoo, a garden was the ultimate oasis and refuge. I sought out interesting flowers, climbed big trees and was lost in a magic world. Parallel, walking barefoot under thorn trees and observing the dry veld was a daily experience. In contemporary art, fashion and design, we’re seeing overwhelming evidence of our growing preoccupation with losing bits of Paradise, of dissociation with Nature, and a kind of panic about keeping it present in our lives.

Was there anything you found tricky about working in the medium of ostrich eggshell?

It took a while for me to realise the potential of the medium in combination with coloured pigments. The fact that AVOOVA artisans have honed their skills over years and can produce whatever fine detail or patterning is required, compounds this potential. It’s been a great learning curve.

What is it that you love about living in the Karoo and is it a place you draw great inspiration from?

Spending my childhood and most of my school life in the Karoo, this vitally shaped my concept of space, light and clarity. It is also a harsh, physically challenging environment, so the lesson of perseverance has been an important one. In spite of environmental imbalances caused by livestock overgrazing, I still feel the earth and air of the Karoo must be about the cleanest and quietest on the planet.

One of the highlights of your career?

Being entrusted with exterior and interior wall designs for a big new school campus in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg from 2005-07, and placing signature mosaics at entrances to three of the five campus buildings.

If you weren’t an artist, you’d be...

…. a musician! I believe music to be the most unifying creative energy.

What else can we expect to see from you soon?

I’m expanding a series of oversized green drawings begun in 2014, looking at the structure and texture of plant life. And possibly new big portraits of plants and people … besides a solo show of new botanicals at WHAG, Kimberley scheduled for February 2018.

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