Sue Pam-Grant

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SUE PAM-GRANT – CURRENTLY LIVING IN JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Mobile +27 082 896 7112

BORN 22 11 62 - Cape Town

1983

COMPLETED PERFROMERS DIPLOMA UCT DRAMA SCHOOL ,Cape Town

1984 –1987

WORKED AS FREELANCE ACTOR – Johannesburg.

1988

CO WROTE CURL UP AND DYE WITH HUSBAND DJ GRANT

1989 – 1991

PERFORMED AND TOURED WITH CURL UP AND DYE

JHB; CAPE TOWN ; DURBAN; LONDON; EDINBURGH; GERMANY

CURL UP AND DYE WON MANY LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL AWARDS INCLUDING BEST PLAY BOTH HERE AND IN EDINBURGH

1991-1996

CO-WROTE WITH DJ GRANT: ANOTHER KETTLE OF FISH

TAKE THE FLOOR – JHB, CAPE TOWN, EDINBURGH FEST, MONTREAL

1997 – 1998

SURBURBAN BLISS – PLAYING KOBIE A LEADING ROLE IN TELEVISION SITCOM

1998

BECAME A MOM TO RILEY!

1999 – 2000

DIRECTING INDUSTRIAL AND CORPORATE THEATRE FOR BLUEMOON CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND BEING A MAMA

2000

MY DAUGHTER LULA WAS BORN

2001

CO WROTE WITH DJ GRANT CHASING CHAIRS

2002

PERFORMED IN CHASING CHAIRS

CO – CREATED AND DIRECTED ‘THE ART OF TAKING OFF’ WITH GERARD BESTER

DIRECTING INDUSTRIAL THEATRE

2003

WORKED AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND CONSULTANT TO BLUEMOON [directing their corporate communications]

2004

CREATED AND DIRECTED ‘SCREEN FACTOR 8’ WHICH OPENED FNB DANCE UMBRELLA – OPEN AIR STAGE IN NELSON MANDELLA SQUARE

DIRECTOR AND CREATIVE CONSULTANT AT BLUEMOON

2005

SOLO SHOW - ‘SIMPLICITY MISS PETITE SIZE 8MP’ – LARGE COLLAGE PHOTOGRAPHIC WORKS ON CANVAS; JHB MUTI GALLERY [44 STANLEY];

BELL ROBERTS CAPE TOWN - Simplicity

NSA DURBAN. - Simplicity

GROUP SHOW – SASOL NEW SIGNITURES

GROUP SHOW – ARTSPACE ‘OPPITAFEL’ MINITURES

2006

FIGURING FAITH – STANDARD BANK GALLERY- GROUP SHOW

EN ROUTE – BAMBOO – SOLO SHOW

CO CREATED and DIRECTED THE THEARE WORK ‘COUPE’ for STANDARD BANK NATIONAL ART FESTIVAL – Main Festival

STARTED TO PLAY WITH WILLIAM KENTRIDGE ON A PROJECT2007

Coupe received 8 nominations for the Naledi Theatre awards including Best Director.

Coupe received 6 Naledi Awards including Best Cutting Edge Work

And Best Ensemble Work.

‘Inner Lining’

SOLO EXHIBITION AT UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG ART GALLERY 6 – 27 JUNE 2007. 2008

FEBRUARY - SOLO SHOW AT GALLERY MOMO

JUNE/JULY – COLLABORATION WITH WILLIAM KENTRIDGE FOR SYDNEY BIENALLE

SEPTEMBER – DIRECTING COUPE FOR MARKET THEATRE SEASON, MAIN STAGE

MANIFESTO

INNER LINING

It is in the bespoke garment that we find an inner lining.

Inner:
1. Further in; interior
2. Of thoughts, feelings deeper; more secret

Lining:
1. A layer of materials to line a surface.
2. An inside layer or surface

From my experience as a theatre practitioner, I have come to understand the complex nature of the creative triangle – the Artist, the Art and the Audience. For me, the act of art is to carry the story, to engage with your audience, ignite the collective imagination and enter a dialogue that resonates in the receiver; an intervention that takes the viewer en route in a creative exchange.

My quest to create has always been sparked by excavations, digging for treasures, pulling out narratives, searching for new portraits in old stories.
Beginning on the streets of Joubert Park [Curl Up and Dye], to the Dance Studios in Hillbrow [Take the Floor], from my kitchen [Chasing Chairs], to journeys on the South African Railways. [Coupe], and most recently at the foot of the furnace of the Smithfield municipal dump in the Free-State.

When confronted with an end, you go back to a beginning. This time it is my narrative that has ignited the excavation, ‘fragility in living / power in fragility.’ An exploration that routes back to the childhood experience, and a conversation that continues to interrogate my everyday existence.

My children and my daily trips to and from the primary school playground have led me to explore the function of memory and how it evokes, simultaneously, a nostalgia for that which has been lost and a resilience in the vulnerability that has been found. My playground is on a piece of canvas nailed to the floor. Here I assemble my layers. I use calico, elastic, tacks, glue, frames, tennis racquet holders, windows, drawers, chairs, ladders, sofas, basins, tubs, colanders, ladles, cake tins, buckets, funnels, bed springs, cotton, sanitary towel holders, tea- pots, sewing machines, buttons, erasers, knives, forks, tea towels, napkins, needles, satchels, suitcase, iron, parts of the rocking-horse, spoons, pots, plastic cows, school bottles, bandages, ballerina’s, rulers, zoo biscuits, bras, serviette holders, bathing caps, prams, the shaving brush, hair pins, thimbles, toy trains, hotel sugar cubes, kettles, cups, frocks, text and shoes.

I then wrap, bind, fold, cover, snip, tear, stick, bandage, patch, reinforce, glue, staple, nail, pull, knot, tie, line, mark, erase, and mark again, soldering the cracks and joins, into assemblages that juggle fragility and resilience in a balancing act, of life’s precarious performance.

In this continued exploration, I have found a body of evidence that takes me back to my beginnings, to endless hours of jumping through the tension of criss-cross elastics and to the first goose bump on my skin when I pulled out a buried giraffe from the soil in my garden.

My excavation is in process and I will continue to dig …

Tactile narratives bearing our markings, our life scars, our unique identities, our line drawings deeply etched into our skin canvas, our inner lining.

Sue Pam-Grant 14 June 2007

 

"Inner Lining" by Sue Pam-Grant. Until 27 June. (UJ Art Gallery, Auckland Park. 011-559-2911)

The first thing that strikes you on entering the gallery space is the silence. You might argue: art is visual, not aural. But the silence exuded by Pam-Grant’s assemblages is unearthly. Maybe it is because many comprise elements from noisy nostalgia. It is as though the works have suddenly stopped chattering amongst themselves, to acknowledge your presence.

The works embody an evolved, sometimes ironic, gentle humour, tinctured with deep, never trite nostalgia. It’s the sense of off-beat that infused the work of women associated with Paris dada. It’s Pam-Grant doffing her cap to Joseph Cornell and Tadeusz Kantor. It’s also unique, compiled with an aggressively brave sense of life.

Pam-Grant might be more known to entertainment buffs than art ones. She was "Kobie" in "Suburban Bliss" during the 1990s. She created award-winning play "Curl Up and Dye" in 1989, and co-created and directed "CoupÈ", which won six Naledi Awards in 2007. She began making visual art in 2005. She works with found objects. Marcel Duchamp did it in 1913, attaching a bicycle wheel to a kitchen stool, thus rocking and shocking the art world.

Pam-Grant’s approach is complicated by autobiography and her theatre skills. Hers is the kind of lateral thinking magic that can make a colander the face of a child, or two pairs of ballet shoes into a portrait of a woman and her daughter. It can make a basinful of perishing pink bathing caps into "Pink Melons", stuffed with dress patterns, gently allude to illness. It’s in gesture, rather than forced likeness, and in its quirkiness, it is poignant and comical.

The works comprise household ‘junk’: Rusted basins, buckets, furniture, garments, sewing tools and dress patterns. Bandages form an important medium, making the ordinary extraordinary, as in "School Lunch". The "Window" works, geometric compositions from elastic strips in red, blue and flesh, are less successful than the evolved assemblages.

"Last home movie" shatters values. Comprising a colander filled with elastic, an old fashioned iron and a wheel, there is a sense of a reel unwinding; the sprockets are absent, the celluloid is the elastic. Indeed, there is a lot of this pink elastic in her work. Some of it has substance in ballet shoes. More plays a role as bandages and strips. It is like bra elastic.

In 2003, Pam-Grant was diagnosed with breast cancer. A lot of the inner lining of this show is about the challenge that this represented to her sense of equilibrium.

The most powerful piece is "Portrait with Lines 24042007". It’s incorporated into a stepladder. In strips of crepe bandage, written with red pencil, Pam-Grant pays tribute to her mother, who she lost on 24 April 1997. It is juxtaposed over a three-part work, constructed in down-at-heel white wooden kitchen drawers, entitled "Brassiere". In each, we see a mastectomy bra, in each we read many comments about breasts. About wishing she had no breasts when she started learning ballet in Standard Six. About an almost objective curiosity about her illness. Rather than maudlin or clinical, this central core to the show is deep and inexorably human.

In "Inner Lining" Pam-Grant demonstrates her theatrical ability to balance visual torsion with narrative tension. The result is astonishingly sensitive representations of the unrepresentable.

By Robyn Sassen - Jewish Report June 2007

 

 

"Inner Lining", an exhibition, by Sue Pam Grant runs until 27 June at UJ Art Gallery in Auckland Park.

If you make clothing you will know how important the inner lining is: it says instant, durability, quality – under the surface. It is around this philosophy that Sue Pam-Grant builds her extensive life experience that has taken her from ballet, to the theatre and television to the unique sculptures that have become second nature to her. In this new art form, where she uses household goods salvaged from municipal dumps, Sue Pam-Grant has found a way to transform pain into hope. Still displaying the playful sense of humour that she uses to say painful things – remember "Curl up and Dye"- that theatre play in the eighties that had everyone talking and that drama students are still discussing, and that begs to be presented to a new theatre audience?

 

The ‘theatre’ that Pam-Grant now presents to her audience/observers has in one sense shrunk. Her stage has been abstracted to figurines, ballerina dolls or shoes that represent people, hanging suspended in the air inside an old, weathered, wooden frame: the effect just as stunning as the words she brought to life on the stage.

In assemblages of rusted objects that evoke the woman, mother and child, "Inner Lining" investigates the fragility of life. Vulnerability and transience, but at the same time a poignant (relentless?) urge to survive that creates prosperity out of adversity, is the central theme.

In the elastic bands that attach the objects in different compositions to the frames, one can feel to breaking point the tense relationships of people with each other. The reminder of suspenders that held up school stockings, and corsets that molded figures according to the prescription of fashion, suggest binding and tension. Her statements with objects are as sharp as the impact of her words, gestures, costumes and make-up in her stage performances.

 

The rusted and neglected enamel dishes, weathered wooden window frames, loose drawers isolated from their cupboards, boxes of partitions containing items of clothing and objects from a woman’s needlework basket and medicine chest, all become metaphors for life lived – a life in which all of us can recall painful experiences to our body and soul. Also, the crumpled dreams of a child who could not live up to her family’s expectations. "People wanted to see me fill my cousin – Phyllis Spira’s – ballet shoes. And the long road of acceptance of her body after she lost her breast to cancer. "Ironic that it happened the way it did. When I could not fulfill the ballet dream I ascribed it my "not flat enough" breasts", grins the artist.

 

Irony and paradox, together with humour, are Pam-Grant’s principle building blocks. With these she avoids the sentimentality and self-pity that are so easy to struggle with.

She achieves this necessary distance between experience and presentation also through her rich experience in assimilating the abstract art of Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan. His right-angled lines and blocks coloured in red, yellow and blue are reflected in the pink and blue stripes on everyday trays and dishcloths she used. With clothing elastic and window frames, this artist on the underside of the earth translated Mondriaan’s abstracts into dishcloth language. Frivolous in some works; painful and reminders of huge emotional discomfort in others.

This contrast is not a hotch-potch that brags of the artist’s virtuous skill using every possible art technique. Her metaphors grow brighter and are emphasised by the use of these mundane objects.

Information box:

Exhibitions and theatre pieces like:

First solo of large collage of photographic prints on cloth at the former art gallery, Muti, at 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark , Johannesburg. The exhibition traveled to the Bell Roberts in Cape Town and the NSA in Durban in 2005.

 

Together with her husband, DJ Grant, she wrote and interpreted a theatre piece that won local and international prizes: Curl up and Dye, from 1988 to 1991. Other cooperative theatre pieces together with her husband include Another Kettle of Fish, performed from 1991 to 1996.

Television viewers enjoyed Pam-Grant as Kobie in the soap opera Suburban Bliss from 1991 to 1996.

 

Photos sent to Beeld by the artist:

14 Kitchen Window 31052007 – a wooden frame used as backdrop for traycloths and dishcloths constructed in the Mondriaan style. A reconstruction of a life that was knocked hard but that triumphed in transcending. Every one with lines and stitching, like an inner lining of inner defendability.

23 Plaster of Paris consisting of a child’s scene with bucket, plaster, bandages and school shoes against a backdrop of Large Windows in Mondriaan patterns, such as kitchen widows described above.

By Bette Lambrecht - The Beeld 14 June 2007

 
© All of the images on this website are copyrighted original artworks by their author and are protected by international copyright law. No materials in this gallery may be reproduced, copied, downloaded, or used in any form without written permission of the contemporary artist Sue Pam-Grant.
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