Amanda Jephson

If you want a challenge, acquire a ‘place in the country’, it will exhaust and invigorate you and keep you busy from sun-up to sun down. What with a hundred-plus animals, chickens, turkeys, geese, donkeys and cattle (none of which get put on a plate) and a registered Burmese cattery, Amanda’s life on animal farm is chock a block. Add to that a stack of unfinished creative building projects, constant maintenance of fences, water pipes and old buildings, alien land clearing, where acacias and pines grow faster than the day of the triffids and you have the picture.

This picture is however balanced by another, of beauty, tranquillity, peace and quiet, gentle rolling pastures, happy grazing animals, fynbos and mountains, which are the perfect setting for an artist’s idyllic life outside the small village of Baardskeerdersbos. It is here Amanda and her horticulturist husband bought their farm 21 years ago, and moved to live permanently in 2008. Amanda has a studio and gallery overlooking a valley with Constable views where she paints and does printmaking.

Amanda grew up in a family where art and culture were as natural as breathing, and has two well-known artists in her family. She did art classes at the Nina Campbell-Quine Johannesburg child art studio and matriculated at the Johannesburg High School for Art, Ballet and Music. Spending a year in advertising, she held her first exhibition of mixed media drawings in Cape Town in 1979 and then studied fine art at Michaelis Art School at the University of Cape Town, receiving a BA.FA with Printmaking major and distinctions in History of Art and Cultural History of Western Europe. She went on to do a Master of Arts in Fine Art with a thesis on black South African art, while lecturing in Cultural History and Art History at UCT.

In 1992 she moved her career away from academia into horticulture and landscaping, and studied a National Diploma in Landscape Technology cum laude at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. She had her own business for fifteen years in landscape design and contracting and a nursery which she co-owned with her husband. In 2008 she left Cape Town to settle in the country and dedicate herself to practicing art full time. She is also studying her Honours degree in Psychology at Unisa with the aim of combining art and therapy.

She works in oils and graphic mediums as well as etching and other printmaking techniques. Her work includes landscapes, animals, portraits and conceptual still lives, some semi abstract, some more representational, all drawn from her immediate surroundings and unified in style by a strong sense of colour and form. Critical commentaries on environmental and animal treatment especially in farming and meat commodification, are some issues dealt with in her work, which are not the stuff of nursery rhymes. Recently, after being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer she has begun to explore the notions of randomness and entropy in her work, the break down and eventual disintegration of all matter.

She sells her work on the internet from her website and has works in private collections in South Africa, England, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and the US. She has exhibited in many group shows in the Western Cape and now shows her work in her gallery and bi-annually at the Baardskeerdersbos Art Route.

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