S O P H I E    P E T E R S

Click on the links below the thumbnails to view the full image with cataloguing
For more information on the artist, see below

Untitled (Fruit Seller)

Untitled (Red Van)

Untitled (Men Drinking Beer)

Untitled (Market Place)

Untitled (Houses below Mountain Range)

Untitled (Taxi Rank)

Artist's Statement

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

Mario Pissarra: Did you see a lot of art when you were growing up?

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...



Born in Johannesburg, 1968, Sophie now lives and works in Cape Town.

In an exhibition catalogue of the second Botaki exhibition, subtitled 'Conversations with Sophie Peters' (2005), Mario Pissarra - independent writer , academic, art administrator and artist - describes Sophie Peters as 'a graphic artist and painter, who produces works that are intensely personal'. 'For her themes, she draws on her own experiences of people, places and circumstances', he observes. 'Some of this is directly autobiographical, other themes are more general in that she responds to issues that touch her and inspire her to respond visually'.

'The use of narrative i.e. the telling of stories through pictures, is an important feature in Peters' work', Pissarra continues. 'Observation and drawing are core elements in Peters' work. Both her graphics and paintings derive from her drawing, and, in particular, out of her emphasis on pictorial line. Her images are motivated by her engagement with her subject matter, by themes that inspire her to create images'.

In a major publication, 10 Years 100 Artists: Art In A Democratic South Africa (2004), artist and curator, Sharlene Khan, writes: 'The economic hardship that was many South Africans' experience during the apartheid era, still continues to haunt many individuals today. Economics is a determining factor that has played a huge role in the life and work of Sophie Peters. A muralist, painter and sculptor as well, it is Peters' prints that continue to haunt me, years after I first saw them.'

'Peters' work is a visual recounting of her personal history, detailing all that has happened to her and all the people who've come and gone down the years', Khan writes. 'Peters' life has been punctuated by hard times: she received little formal education, spent some time as a shack dweller…'.

'However, her work is not merely a portrayal of despair, poverty or hopelessness. While her work certainly alludes to the socio-economic realities spawned by the history of this country …. her work also deals with the triumph of the human spirit in such circumstances'.

Art Education

Community Arts Project, Cape Town ( 1986/7 and 1994)
Studied ceramics with Barbara Jackson (1998)
Has taught art to children since 1987
Full-time artist since 1988

Workshops and Residencies

Zabalaza Festival, London (1990)
Print 2000, Maastricht (2000)
Caversham Press, Kwa-Zulu Natal (2001)
Greatmore Studios, Cape Town (2001)

Selected Group Exhibitions

She has been featured in more than 25 exhibitions in South Africa and internationally, including:

2003    Dreams of our Daughters, Klein Karoo Nasonale Kunstefees, Oudtshoorn
2001    Canada - Group show
2000    Germany- Group show
2000    Iceland - Group show
1998    Artists for Africa, Sweden
1998    Dis Nag - The Cape's Hidden Roots in Slavery, Cultural History Museum and South African National Gallery, Cape Town
1997-8  Sicula Sixhentsa Xa Sisonke: The South African Aesthetic, (Travelling Exhibiton), U.S.A.
1995    Relief in Black and White, Brighton, U.K.
1996    Art Against Apartheid, South African Parliament, Cape Town
1995    Peace for Africa, Geneva, Switzerland
1994    Travelling Exhibition, U.S.A.
1993    S.A. National Gallery, Cape Town
1990    Zabalaza Festival, Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), London

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1995    Cry from the Heart, Bellville Association for the Arts, Cape Town

Public Collections

S.A. National Gallery, Cape Town
Durban Art Gallery
Constitutional Court of S.A., Johannesburg

Private Collections

In South Africa, Europe, U.S.A. and Australia

Selected Publications

2004    10 Years 100 Artists: Art In A Democratic South Africa (2004, Bell-Roberts Publishing in association with Struik Publishers, Cape Town)
2000    G.Warren-Brown: Leadership in New American Publishing, March
1999    R. Christian: THE HOURGLASS PROJECT - A WOMAN'S VISION, Catalogue (Fulton County arts Council, Atlanta, U.S.A)
1992    Andries Oliphant: Culture and Empowerment: Debates, Workshops, Art And Photography from the Zabalaza Festival' in Staffrider, Vo.10. no.3


Numerous book illustrations, including four for Juta Publishers;
Mural commissions for Cape Town City Council (1994);
University of Western Cape (1996);
Protea Hotel, Sea Point, Cape Town (2004)'
Part of several group commissions for murals, including Nico Opera House, Cape
Town - now known as Artscape Opera House (1994); Department of Health (1996)
and District Six Museum, Cape Town. (1996).
Also commissions from Robben Island Museum (1996); Cape Span (2004); and
Pentecostal Rapha Mission (2004- 05).


For book illustrations (1994)

2012 All rights reserved. Origination by Di Conradie