From psychology to art

2010-01-22 15:35

THE next exhibition at the Jack Heath Gallery in Ridge Road is of work by Terri Broll. The exhibition is part of the requirements for her Master's degree in fine art and will run from February 21 to March 2.

Broll is better known to many people in Pietermaritzburg as a clinical psychologist than as an artist. Although she did art for matric, it was only after three decades of working that she decided to take what had become a hobby further.

Four years ago she applied to do a post-graduate diploma in fine art at the Centre for Visual Art (CVA) on the local university campus. The requirements are a degree in any discipline, and a portfolio of work. And, once accepted, painting and drawing are conducted under supervision of the CVA staff. When she had completed the diploma, Broll applied to go on to do a Master's degree in painting.

“Of course, painting is greatly out of fashion,” she says. “People are doing installations and videos, but painting is what I want to do.” And doing it in an environment like the CVA, where she has been surrounded by artists, has been hugely stimulating.

I ask whether painting is not the complete opposite of being a psychologist. After all, a psychologist has to keep his or her personality out of the equation, whereas, for a painter, the work is overwhelmingly about the the artist - it reflects their personality.

“In some ways it is not so different - you are still dealing with the unconscious and the unknown, but now it is in an arena with yourself and the canvas,” she says. “It is enormously enriching. But the downside is what was once a hobby and a relaxation is now a challenge, an intense focus fraught with difficulties and struggles.”

“Doing a degree in fine art where there is an academic component is particularly important. You learn to place yourself with an artmaking tradition, creating a feeling that you are part of a greater tide.”

Broll describes her work as “process art”, something she does in a state of creative unpredictability. “When I have finished a painting and look at it, I want to be able to wonder who painted it.”

She compares this to the process of dreaming. Just as a dreamer may wake up and wonders who it is that dreamed the dream, so the artist should be able to look at a work and have the same sense of mystery. And she hopes that her work will lead viewers to their own process of discovery.

Broll's exhibition will be opened at 6 pm today by Dr Graeme Taute. Gallery hours at the Jack Heath Gallery are 8.30 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

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