Mandy Coppes-Martin is a visual artist, working primarily with paper and pulp using fibres such as hemp, sisal, cotton rag and silk.
Matriculating at the Johannesburg Art, Ballet and Drama School, Mandy went on to study Photography at the Vaal Triangle Technikon and then began a diploma in Fine Art in 1993 at the former Technikon Witwatersrand (now the University of Johannesburg). She then completed her Masters Degree in Fine Art (cum laude) in 2004. Mandy concentrated on the development of local and invasive plant fibres for the production of specialist papers for her research project. A study visit to Japan provided a framework for an alternative method of making paper using long fibres found in South Africa.
Her works “Trembling Giant” and “Virgin Pulp” were awarded the runner-up prize in the Sasol New Signatures 2012 Art Awards. These 2 works are currently housed in the Sasol collection. Mandy’s first solo exhibition opened at Lizamore and Associates in November 2013. Her new body of work incorporates crocheting with Shifu; paper thread and drawings in raw silk and paper pulp. She has exhibited in numerous group shows in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Belgium.
Mandy Coppes–Martin lives in Johannesburg with her husband and 2 daughters and currently works from the Newtown Artist-Run Centre at Assemblage in Johannesburg, South Africa.
I am greatly informed by the physical world and use mostly natural materials such as paper, hemp and silk as a medium of expression. These fibres are malleable and easily transform into objects or drawings but they are also steeped in history and significance. I am interested in the physical connection to the material, the subject matter I am working with and the theoretical association with the image and the material.
The life rings of trees inspire me because they offer a concrete connection to the past but which is still confined to the present. I crochet with paper thread from the inside out - much in the same way that a tree develops its life rings. The age and the history of the tree shown to us through the life rings, provide us with an almost nostalgic lament to a life been and gone.
Most of my work is thin or ethereal in nature and it allows me to look through and past the image as it floats. The transparency of the work, and the shadows that fall from the images complete and solidify the relationship that exists between the work, its environment and myself.
The rat signifies another connection between man and the natural environment and how closely we are associated. Rats seem to evoke a feeling of disgust with most people and yet in many ways they are similar to the human race. They eat in times of plenty, they gang up on each other when their boundaries are over populated and they display feelings of optimism and pessimism.
The drawings in silk are typically of the human form and our connection with the physical world. The very nature of the silk worm in many ways is similar to the human condition. Silk has been a revered fibre for centuries and has been smuggled, kept a secret and stolen. It is spun from an insect that purges and feeds for days in order to produce something that will protect itself only for a few days so that it can be allowed to grow into something that has no eyes nor mouth and that can neither drink nor eat. It continues to mate, lay eggs and pass away. What is left is something beautiful but rather useless in terms of its natural surroundings.