This essay featured in the catalogue for Botaki Exhibition 3: Conversations with the artist Sophie Peters, an exhibition curated by Mario Pissarra for Old Mutual Asset Managers, Cape Town , 2005
Sophie Peters: I was a child when I start seeing paintings of artists hanging in galleries and I thought gosh’. I painted as a child with water colours and pastels, whatever, but I find out in myself I like drawing and I like paint and that was in me until today, I feel like I have to go on.
Mario Pissarra:: Who took you to these galleries, and how young were you?
Sophie Peters:: No, I just walked around in Jo´burg... I was like 10 years old.
Mario Pissarra:: For a 10 year old to walk into a gallery is quite brave, what made you go in?
Sophie Peters:: Because pictures... when I look at pictures the guys painted water like real water, stones under water and it just kicked me. And the flesh, when I see portraits... another guy, I think he was American, he painted portraits like real flesh and that made me do it. I can do it myself but I was a wood- cutter at that time too, and I tried everything that was in art just to get on top.
Mario Pissarra:: Before you were 10 you were doing woodcut?
Sophie Peters:: Ja I did woodcut... &nbSophie Peters:;I was cutting flowers, things like grapes and all that.
Mario Pissarra:: Yes, I remember reading about that in a newSophie Peters:aper article ... you were carving the trays used for selling vegetables?
Sophie Peters:: That´s it, ja. I was selling [vegetables] and the woodcut piece was like R11. I was just selling it when I finish doing a piece... I use[d] razorblades (laughs)... but it was sometimes a lot of blood on my hands. I used to close it up with tape, put some paper then I´d cut on and I´d finish all the wording and flowers and things like that.
Mario Pissarra:: The people that knew you what did they say?
Sophie Peters:: They loved it because I sold the tamatie planks for R10 and so it worked, and &nbSophie Peters:;they bought it. But today I´ve iMario Pissarra:roved a lot and I´m glad I became an artist.
Mario Pissarra:: You´ve said you make art because you reSophie Peters:ond to things you see in the community. Say a little more about why you, Sophie Peters, why you make art...
Sophie Peters:: I´ m a person that in my heart when things goes wrong and nobody wants to talk about it, I can´t get on no TV. I cant get on the newSophie Peters:aper. I make some art and I let it go through the [printing] press and put it on galleries and the galleries will put it in paper and from the paper they get on TV and there I will tell my story. And then the story goes out and the people always ask questions and they read about what happened ... &nbSophie Peters:;So me as an artist I want to express my feelings towards the people outside, towards the community, to the world...
Mario Pissarra:: What do you still want to achieve as an artist?
Sophie Peters:: I want to go overseas. I want to go and stay there for a while, just to go and see what Van Gogh and the other artists... where they were living and like Michelangelo... I want to reach places like that, and go and learn more. Now I want to do some sculptures out of stone. I want to carve before I get more old or die. I want to take out the masterpiece and put it there outside [to] let people see what I really wanted to say before I go down.
Mario Pissarra:: This is interesting because I know you did ceramic sculptures before but they´re quite small.
Sophie Peters:: They´re too small (laughs), I have to go big now.
Mario Pissarra:: So how long have you been dreaming of making these big stone sculptures?
Sophie Peters:: It´s a long time but there was no way to tell it but the feeling grows more stronger now.
Mario Pissarra:: How do you feel about how you are received in as an artist, do you think that the art world has been fair to you?
Sophie Peters:: Not so much....the art world was fair but a lot of artists grow more stronger and lot of strong people meet them and help them up. I mean we´re struggling in small studios, in places like this. This is a small room, I can´t express myself bigger and bigger and open up my heart. You just have to work in a small place and try to express yourself and say hey I´m around too, look at me. You can use me. &nbSophie Peters:;You can just ask me, I´ll do...’ &nbSophie Peters:;but maybe people don´t trust, I don´t know [if] they trust us or not but my brain and my heart and my hands can stand for anything.
Mario Pissarra:: I´m looking at the new Bell Roberts book [10 years 100 artists edited by Sophie Perryer] where its nice to see you included with the other artists for a change. They didn´t leave you out this time but they leave out your paintings. Your prints are there. But when I look at your paintings I think they are most personal works
Sophie Peters:: That´s it.
Mario Pissarra:: How do you feel that your paintings are not being seen because your graphics are being seen. Some people think you´re just a printmaker, but I think you´re a painter.
Sophie Peters:: What happened [is that] Sharlene [Khan, a contributor to the book] said there was a lot of paintings and there was not much print works in the book. They needed prints, they didn´t need paintings, so there was no other way I can put my paintings in the book.
Mario Pissarra:: Your paintings are going to private clients mainly?
Sophie Peters:: A lot.
Mario Pissarra:: But when you sell your work in to people who take them overseas, &nbSophie Peters:;how many of them are paintings that people in never see? Is it only a few or is it a lot?
Sophie Peters:: It's a lot of paintings that went overseas already... they've gone, [for exaMario Pissarra:le] there was one client that they want us to paint a lot of paintings and come from overseas. They just come and colect those paintings and pay, that's all. So I still don't know where these paintings are, and that client has gone...Biography
Born in Johannesburg, 1968, Sophie now lives and works in Cape Town.
Community Arts Project, Cape Town ( 1986/7 and 1994)
Selected Group Exhibitions