the person behind the art

Sue Hoppe in JordanI love expressing my reaction to what I see around me in bold loose brushstrokes and vibrant colours, sometimes abstract, sometimes not! My themes and the way I express them vary widely, but I am preoccupied with the plight of women and children in Africa, and a love for architecture and nature also feature often. I used to work mainly in oils, but also use photography and collage to express ideas. The latest series of work uses encaustic. The melted wax brings a wonderful dimension of transparency and texture to the work.

I was born in Cape Town in 1954; grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe; settled in Port Elizabeth from 1978 – 2018; and have recently moved to the charming Karoo hamlet of Prince Albert.  I studied Sciences at University of KZN, Pietermatitzburg, and later did a course in Ceramic Science at what is now NMU.

In 1983, I started a ceramic studio, exhibiting on various APSA exhibitions, at local and national level, and had a solo exhibition at the EP Fine Arts Gallery in 1990. After a fall from my horse, a damaged back prevented further work in ceramics, and frustrated creativity led to a successful career as an interior designer, including furniture design, retailed through my shop, called El Gecko Designs.

Throughout this time, I had pursued my interest in photography, which culminated in an exhibition of photographs at Creative Designs Gallery in 1999. I started painting in 1999, working mostly in oils, but also incorporating photography and mixed media. Most of my work has underlying social messages, often with a preoccupation with the plight of poor children, growing up in Africa, with little hope of a better future. My latest work deals with the issue of Dispossession, on many levels.

Between 2009-2012, I was Chairperson of artEC/ EPSAC Community Art Centre, and worked to make it more relevant to all sectors of the Eastern Cape visual arts community.

In recent years, I’ve also written and designed several books, and co-founded El Gecko Publishing, with my husband, Max.

Career Highlights to date

  1. 1990Ceramics solo exhibition at the EP Fine Arts Gallery Port Elizabeth
  2. 1999Exhibition of photographs at Creative Designs Gallery in Port Elizabeth
  3. 2006Solo exhibition at Khüne Boekkooi Gallery in Port Elizabeth [June]
  4. 2007Solo exhibition at Khüne Boekkooi Gallery in Port Elizabeth [July]
  5. Solo exhibition at Anne Bryant Art Gallery, East London [October]
  6. 2008Historic Port Elizabeth at EPSAC Gallery with Vilia Offerman and Bob Binnell [February]
  7. War and Peace solo at Cuyler Street Gallery, Port Elizabeth [March]
  8. Solo Exhibition at Die Blou Vrou Gallery, Port Elizabeth [August]
  9. 20094 Women, with Esmé Goosen, Rina Badenhorst & Roma Cloete, at EPSAC [November]
  10. 2012Alone: Together, with Ayanda Mji & Jimmy Ndlovu at NAF Grahamstown [July]
  11. 2013On the (t)horns of a dilemma, with Dorelle Sapere at artEC [February]
  12. Alone: Together Again, Ayanda Mji, Litha Ncokazi & Jimmy Ndlovu NAF Grahamstown [July]
  13. 2014Don’t Fence Me In, NAF Grahamstown [July]
  14. 2015Locking Horns with Earth& Sky, Steph Liebetrau & Donvé Branch, NAF Grahamstown [July]
  15. 2016UnLocking Horns, with Stephanie Liebetrau & Donvé Branch, NAF Grahamstown [July]
  16. 2017Art in the Park, Pietermaritzburg [May]
  17. UnLocking Horns, Steph Liebetrau, Lookout Sibanda & Donvé Branch, NAF Grahamstown [July]
  18. 2018Art in the Park, Pietermaritzburg [May]
  19. Prince Albert Open Studios [July]
  20. Decorex, Johannesburg [August]
  21. Prince Albert Open Studios [December]
  22. 2019Prince Albert Open Studios [June]
  23. Decorex, Johannesburg [August]
  24. 2020Prince Albert Open Studios [January]

Things that inspire me

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