I’m Jessica Merle, a multidisciplinary artist from Durban, South Africa.

In my creative practice I try to stitch message, media and process together. Textiles and clay have a corporeal, almost fleshy, existence, offering up a deeply material and process-based ground for my work. I obsess over my materials like they’re living participants themselves and take care to listen to and draw from the stories embodied within.

The physical messiness of being human is an intriguing thing, and I find such repulsive beauty in the spillage and detritus of our bodies and nature. Metamorphosis, death, rebirth, cellular evolution and mutation are some of the overlapping themes I return to time and again, burrowing into them through the channels of thread, fibre and clay.

Like many humans around the world, the future of our planet is a question that presents itself everyday. How might our world look one day? What will humans be willing to do to survive? I find myself in imaginary worlds built on impossible genetic refraction and splicing, a human fusion and coevolution with nature.

Does something here resonate with you?

Let me know!

Selected Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

2016

‘Innerspace’, Master of Fine Arts Graduation Exhibition, Jack Heath Gallery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (November)

Group Exhibitions

2019

‘Sister Outsider’, at Community ZA, Durban, South Africa (August)

‘Living Thread’, part of group exhibition at Pablo Honey, Hillcrest, South Africa (August) 

2018

‘THE WOMAN’, at Community ZA, Durban, South Africa (August)

2017

South African Book Arts’, alongside the event ‘Booknesses: Taking Stock of the Book Arts in South Africa’, at FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa (March)

David Walters and Friends ‘Art in Clay’, at William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley, South Africa (July)

2016

The Things We Do For Love’, alongside ‘SA’s Dirty Laundry’, at SOMA Art + Space, Johannesburg, South Africa (November)

2015

‘Line’, at Artisan Gallery, Durban, South Africa (February)

David Walters and Friends ‘Looking Backwards: Looking Forwards’, at William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley, South Africa (July)

Power and Visual Culture’, alongside The South African Visual Arts Historians’ 30th Annual International Conference, at Jack Heath Gallery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa (September)

2014

‘First Introductions’, at Art Afrique Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (May)

David Walters and Friends ‘Legacy’ Travelling Exhibition, South Africa, at:

  • Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Port Elizabeth (March 2014)
  • Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg (alongside the Juliet Armstrong Retrospective Exhibition) (May 2014)
  • Ceramics SA National Exhibition, Alphen (November 2014)

2013                          

David Walters and Friends ‘Legacy’ Travelling Exhibition, South Africa, at:

  • The William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberley (July)
  • Raymond Slater Library, Centenary Centre, Hilton Arts Festival (September)
  • ‘Art in Clay’ Festival, Franschhoek (October)

 

Education

2014-2016- Master of Arts (Fine Arts) at University of KwaZulu-Natal

2013- Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts Honours) (Ceramics) at University of KwaZulu-Natal (Summa cum Laude)

2010-2012- Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts and Classical Civilization) at University of KwaZulu-Natal (Cum Laude)

Online Publications

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