Carmen Wakeford, nee Steyn, was born in Ficksburg, The Orange Free State, South Africa in 1967. She works predominantly in acrylics on board, although she often likes to create functional art pieces, which have drawn her more toward creating art that is decorative in nature.
While studying Art History at Pietermaritzburg Girl’s High School, she fell in love with the practice of painting. Completely taken by Van Gogh‘s expressive style and colour choices, she decided then, that regardless of where life would take her, she was going to become an artist.
It wasn’t until 2002 that she eventually was in a position to begin working on living her dream. Sparked by a poem she had written, she had the urge to create an artwork for it, and this finally set her creative life in motion. She worked on her own, experimenting, as the art she was creating early on was centered on her own writing and a means of self-expression. True art, she believes, should always be authentic in how markings are made and in how they are assembled to create an artwork. “It speaks volumes,” she says, “without having to resort to ‘shock’ techniques in order to be seen and heard.” Art to her isn’t a cry to be heard, but rather a sharing of experiences; pictures, people and places.
She has held a few solo exhibitions, and in 2015 she joined the Benoni Art Route, in Gauteng, as one of the 24 artists, opening their studios every last Sunday of each month to the public. It gave her the opportunity to inspire and uplift visitors through her use of colour. Her paintings originate from her thoughts, both factual and/or fantasy, and she often likes to use symbols, and objects of nature to create her decorative artworks. She says, “I don’t concentrate on any particular subject matter, though it’s important to me to highlight the beauty of ordinary life. I choose to create art that is bold and uncomplicated, and of a positive nature.” Featured in the Benoni City Times in May 2015.
She currently works from her home studio called, THE TEA HOUSE ART STUDIO, which got its name from her passion for Moroccan culture. She says, “I am drawn to the craftsmanship of their labour intensive handcrafted products… It is about being earthy, yet vibrant. Being grounded, yet allowing yourself to be drawn into the mysteries of life, unafraid of any indifference that you may encounter and letting that mystery grow your sense of self, in order to contribute to the delights of living”. “It’s about creating something tangible from the intangible or creating something extraordinary from the ordinary. It’s about imagination and freedom and highlighting the magic of the ordinary. It’s about presenting and sharing life in a new way, after it has moved through you.”
Her recent artworks have been sold locally and abroad and she currently works on creating some reproductions of her earlier works as well as her more recent decorative artworks.