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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

JANE STRODE (article first published : 2005-02-7)

What do you do if you’re a visual artist at the height of your creative powers and you are suddenly diagnosed with a degenerative hereditary macular disease and related eye dystrophy?

Well, the less strong-minded among us would probably lay down their brushes right away and put their talent to rest.

Not so Jane Strode, whose exhibition of paintings titled Dream-works is running at the NSA Gallery until February 13. While the diagnosis hit her hard, the devastating news from her medical advisors that she could no longer drive was a double blow. Added to this, her father suffered a heart attack from which he mercifully recovered but the emotional stress took its toll.

She has handled these setbacks with strength and admirable fortitude, although she admits that she goes through some serious dark periods. “But there’s no point in weeping and wailing, is there?” she says with her engaging smile. “I now find it takes longer for me to adjust coming in from the sunshine to a darkened interior and I also have to rest more. I work close to the canvas and it’s very exhausting.”

A commited Christian, she draws on her faith and is calm in the belief that her maker is close at hand to offer comfort and guidance.

A diminutive 4’9” (1.48m), she has a BA degree from Natal University (now University of KwaZulu-Natal). She has taken part in several NSA members’ and other group exhibitions and has travelled extensively. Born in Johannesburg, she attended Umhlali Primary School and Stanger High School and has spent most of her life in the Umhlali area. “Perhaps because of this,” she says,” my subject matter revolves around nature and the changing seasons, and the changing light and colours that come with the seasons.

Working with her trusty 13 year-old Nikon FM2 camera, Jane sometimes manipulates the images on her computer before she begins painting, “I have found that if I use 400 ASA film and work late in the afternoon with a wide aperture and a slow shutter speed, I can capture the light effects that I am looking for,” she explains. “The results are often surreal and magical and I can then translate them into paintings.”

The works at the NSA are hung in chronological order and it is interesting to observe the changes over the last two crucial years. Blue dominates the works from 2003 which are strong and vibrant and mostly depict leaves while her more recent work has much to do with the texture of nature.

While Jane has no formal art training she has worked with well-known Durban artists Pascale Chandler, Carol Ann Gainer, Kim Goodwin and Sarah Richards and more recently with Clinton de Menezes. This is her second solo exhibition.

Jane worked for 11 years as a journalist with the Daily News in Durban. She is self-employed and runs a Saturday morning craft market at the Foxhill Bush Bar in Umhlali while helping to manage the family's indigenous nursery.

More information from the NSA on 031 202-3686.




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