In 2014, she was finishing a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London and preparing for her first solo exhibition, How Cannibals Cuddle. Just six years later, Stellenbosch-born artist Marlene Steyn has become a recognised name in international art circles, with an impressive roster of exhibitions and residencies under her belt.
A major highlight was having her work featured as part of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa’s inaugural exhibition in 2017. That same year, she was named as one of the 100 most important ceramic and clay artists in the world in Phaidon’s prestigious Vitamin C publication. She describes being chosen as “something I still have to pinch myself about”. Since then, her global footprint has continued to expand, with her work being showcased in Israel, Italy and Belgium, among other countries.
While her international star is on the rise, nowadays she’s looking closer to home for sources of inspiration. “They have shifted slightly from Greek mythology to African folklore, as well as towards more personal and intuitive narratives – from the mystical feminine to the everyday emotional. I have also experimented with larger ceramics, resin and fibreglass and am excited to challenge scale and function further.”
Marlene’s art was displayed at the Cape Town Art Fair in February and also at the Norval Foundation’s sculpture garden, where her most recent large-scale sculpture, Arching Type, has been installed. Viewings of Marlene’s work can also be arranged through SMAC Gallery. – Nell Hofmeyr
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