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Shany van den Berg

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Shany van den Berg

I reside in Stellenbosch, a university town in South Africa’s preeminent winemaking region, within an hour’s drive from Cape Town. As the country’s first inland European village, it’s full of history and historical buildings. The home sits on a leafy shaded street with an H-shaped nucleus of the original Cape Dutch home that was constructed by Dr. Jacob Versveld, the first South African-trained physician. In 1890, the region’s district surgeon, Dr. J.H. Neethling, acquired the home and is credited with adding the upper story, the balcony, and the Victorian embellishments, where his daughter lived up until the early 1980s. Today, the home has been subdivided into four separate apartments—all occupied by successful women—making it a female dormitory of sorts, with a central dining room that the residents use communally for group dinners. I serve as the artist in residence, and my work peppers the public areas.

Shany van den Berg

I was born in the tiny town of Riversdale, about four hours east of Stellenbosch, where there were no galleries and no art, though I knew I wanted to be an artist. My mom used to buy me colouring books, but all I would gravitate towards were blank pages. A visit to artist Vera Volschenk left a favourable impression upon me to later become an artist.

I love having my studio connected to the hustle and bustle of the street.

It’s been my hourglass many a day. I can get so lost in my work that the increased traffic of people and cars reminds me that another day has ended, and it’s also time for me to stop.

Shany van den Berg

After a brief stint of nursing and rearing my family, I finally turned to my first love and, for the past twenty-five years, I have worked full-time as a self-taught artist with residencies in Germany, China and the USA. Now, my studio is my home, sitting on a relatively busy road for this country town and tourist destination.

I often joke that one of the reasons I’m in my apartment is because it’s one of the few places big enough to fit my large easel that reaches up to nearly touching the ceiling—it wouldn’t fit anywhere else. I also love that my studio space is large enough that I can walk back for perspective on the art I’m working on. Additionally, my studio has two huge sash windows, pouring in an incredible light. This offers the additional benefit of allowing me to move my larger artworks in and out of the studio with ease. Unfortunately, I lost everything in my apartment from a fire in the early 90s, though from it, I learned the importance of letting go and renewing oneself.

With many pieces in various mediums ‘on-the-go’ at any one time, presently, all my energy is being poured into a gigantic head that dominates the room—a wire-framed representation of a head from medical diagrams of old. I have literally been in and out of it weaving 180 metres of hessian around its skull. Ultimately, the plan is to have a bronze made of the woven piece.

Shany van den Berg

For me, decorating is all about layers. I’m constantly trying to weave a story; trying to make a narrative, and as such, I am regularly moving things around.

I like buying something new because it brings fresh energy into the place and makes you appreciate things you already had anew. You can see these readily apparent layers in my living room, which features a mix-match of items all artfully displayed—a skull candle, a Victorian mannequin, a Scandinavian lamp—to name but a few of the odd bedfellows. I love to put certain aesthetics together. The truth is, I get bored quickly, and I get to a stage every now and then where I just want to give it all away, and often do—passing things onto my children.

Reflecting this benevolence, my bedroom is a humble monochromatic affair featuring a palette of earth tones. I prefer calm colours—they allow me to think and to create. Opposite my single bed with an old fireplace screen as a bed head, a wall of artwork eclipses my tiny television. I try and retain a piece of my art each year for financial investment, but often I end up swapping my art with other artists I admire.

Shany van den Berg

I reside in Stellenbosch, a university town in South Africa’s preeminent winemaking region, within an hour’s drive from Cape Town. As the country’s first inland European village, it’s full of history and historical buildings. The home sits on a leafy shaded street with an H-shaped nucleus of the original Cape Dutch home that was constructed by Dr. Jacob Versveld, the first South African-trained physician. In 1890, the region’s district surgeon, Dr. J.H. Neethling, acquired the home and is credited with adding the upper story, the balcony, and the Victorian embellishments, where his daughter lived up until the early 1980s. Today, the home has been subdivided into four separate apartments—all occupied by successful women—making it a female dormitory of sorts, with a central dining room that the residents use communally for group dinners. I serve as the artist in residence, and my work peppers the public areas.

Shany van den Berg

I was born in the tiny town of Riversdale, about four hours east of Stellenbosch, where there were no galleries and no art, though I knew I wanted to be an artist. My mom used to buy me colouring books, but all I would gravitate towards were blank pages. A visit to artist Vera Volschenk left a favourable impression upon me to later become an artist.

I love having my studio connected to the hustle and bustle of the street.

It’s been my hourglass many a day. I can get so lost in my work that the increased traffic of people and cars reminds me that another day has ended, and it’s also time for me to stop.

Shany van den Berg

After a brief stint of nursing and rearing my family, I finally turned to my first love and, for the past twenty-five years, I have worked full-time as a self-taught artist with residencies in Germany, China and the USA. Now, my studio is my home, sitting on a relatively busy road for this country town and tourist destination.

I often joke that one of the reasons I’m in my apartment is because it’s one of the few places big enough to fit my large easel that reaches up to nearly touching the ceiling—it wouldn’t fit anywhere else. I also love that my studio space is large enough that I can walk back for perspective on the art I’m working on. Additionally, my studio has two huge sash windows, pouring in an incredible light. This offers the additional benefit of allowing me to move my larger artworks in and out of the studio with ease. Unfortunately, I lost everything in my apartment from a fire in the early 90s, though from it, I learned the importance of letting go and renewing oneself.

With many pieces in various mediums ‘on-the-go’ at any one time, presently, all my energy is being poured into a gigantic head that dominates the room—a wire-framed representation of a head from medical diagrams of old. I have literally been in and out of it weaving 180 metres of hessian around its skull. Ultimately, the plan is to have a bronze made of the woven piece.

Shany van den Berg

For me, decorating is all about layers. I’m constantly trying to weave a story; trying to make a narrative, and as such, I am regularly moving things around.

I like buying something new because it brings fresh energy into the place and makes you appreciate things you already had anew. You can see these readily apparent layers in my living room, which features a mix-match of items all artfully displayed—a skull candle, a Victorian mannequin, a Scandinavian lamp—to name but a few of the odd bedfellows. I love to put certain aesthetics together. The truth is, I get bored quickly, and I get to a stage every now and then where I just want to give it all away, and often do—passing things onto my children.

Reflecting this benevolence, my bedroom is a humble monochromatic affair featuring a palette of earth tones. I prefer calm colours—they allow me to think and to create. Opposite my single bed with an old fireplace screen as a bed head, a wall of artwork eclipses my tiny television. I try and retain a piece of my art each year for financial investment, but often I end up swapping my art with other artists I admire.

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