Granville Cloete is an artist from Steinkopf in the Northern Cape. He began focusing on his art soon after school. He is self-taught and hopes to broaden his horizons with his work. Cloete creates paintings inspired by the spaces he occupies. The Daily Vox team spoke to Cloete about his art.
Cloete was born and bred in Steinkopf, a town in Namakwa District Municipality in the Northern Cape. He is a full-time artist and said the province is a magical place to be inspired by. It was a colonial missionary outpost with a rich history of Nama and KhoiKhoi indigenous culture and heritage. After high school in 2001, he pursued art on his own. Between 2003 and 2005, he was part of the Steinkopf / Richtersveld Arts & Craft project. Cloete worked as a crafter for this initiative. In 2005, he pursued training in ornamental stone carving in the North-west province.
Cloete uses oil and acrylic paint and mixed media. As a trained craftsperson he can weave in between expressing his creativity. His primary inspiration is his home province. The isolation of the Namaqualand provides so much beauty for Cloete’s work, especially his watercolours.
“We are really unique here in Namaqualand. We have the flowers, the mountains, all of it is inspiring. I keep a close eye on my surroundings,” said Cloete.
Cloete recalled back in his school days that the Nama language was taught for a brief period. It didn’t last long. This is why he tries to stress the importance of preserving indigenous culture and heritage through visual art. He said he sees the indigenous heritage all around him just by the very existence of the people.
The Northern Cape needs more support
Cloete opened a multimedia center in Steinkopf in 2005. He had to close due to financial constraints and lack of support. Cloete said there has been a bare minimum of support for artists in the Northern Cape. He feels the government should provide more institutional support for creatives. He describes Steinkopf as an artist’s enclave, and says it deserves more backing.
“This has always been my career. I and many other artists here are self taught. We just need more exposure and support,” Cloete said.
Cloete has exhibited across a few provinces in South Africa. He opened the Steinkopf Art Gallery with fellow artist Pierre Cloete. It also had to close due to financial constraints. He showed at the Goegap Nature Reserve as part of a flower campaign in Springbok in 2009. In 2010 he showed at the SAITEX trade show in Gauteng.
For the next six years his work was at countless festivals including Gariep and Macufe. In between that he registered as a sole proprietor under the name Granville Colwyn Arts. In the following years he showed at the Grahamstown and FNB Joburg Art festivals.
Cloete has plans to study art. Many people have told him he doesn’t need to. He counters their argument and says he can merge his lived experiences with a formal qualification. Cloete would love to teach art in Steinkopf, and re-open the multimedia center. He said the people of the Northern Cape have so much creativity and need spaces to express that.
“My goal is to see my works in all nine provinces and internationally. To teach art. To give space to nurture the talent we have here,” he said.