Lynette Bester

In 2002 I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Visual Arts (cum laude) from Stellenbosch University where I majored in sculpture. I entered into the field of education and have since been lecturing theory and practice at various tertiary institutions. In 2005 I was appointed Head of the Department of Theory at the Ruth Prowse School of Art. I have regularly participated in exhibitions, and my sculpture has received critical attention. Recently I took the opportunity to register for further studies in my field. In doing so, I am one of the first students to register for the new PhD in Visual Arts with a practical research component.
I have had two solo exhibitions and have participated in a number of group exhibitions locally, and in Brazil, and have attended workshops locally as well as Egypt and most recently in the United Kingdom. I have also been selected as a finalist in two national art competitions, the Sasol New Signatures in 2006 and was a Top Ten finalist for the ABSA L'Atelier Art Competition, in June 2007.
My practical concerns have been formal investigations into everyday objects and processes through which the chosen objects can be ‘taken apart’ and ‘put back together’ to create a new object in which the original object is still recognizable, laden with association, and potential. Simultaneously the process itself is important because of its particular associations.

Pianted Chair, 2009, 30 x 30 x 7cm

Pianted Chair, 2009, 30 x 30 x 7cm
Material sourced without monetary transaction and without accessing so-called ‘virgin material’, but by invitation on a social networking site for the appropriation into an art object with an ecological premise. Once donated this object has been reworked twice into its current state, though by chance discovered to be still recognisable to an earlier owner who once donated it to the individual who in turn donated it to the artist for further appropriation. Multiple layers of paint bares testimony to its multiple owners and layers of memory, meaning, association, and value as well as human interaction and experience.

Benchmark (print on cotton paper) 2008, 200 x 60cm and Sit Here and Think Which Way (bench) 2008

Benchmark (print on cotton paper) 2008, 200 x 60cm and Sit Here and Think Which Way (bench) 2008
Benchmark stems from a previous body of work in which I printed residual scratches made during my own sculpture making process as dry point etchings. During the same investigation of residual mark making, I printed the marks made by a number of artists, while at home in their kitchen by printing the marks made by their knives on perspex cutting boards which I gave them. This series was called Cutting Board: The Artist at Home, 2004 in Benchmark, I literally found a public park bench imbued with marks made by sitters over a period of years, recording their own presence. The planks were removed from the bench, rolled up with ink and printed as a wood cut, revealing layers of text, and striations in the aging wood. Benchmark reveals the memory of those who sat on it and made their mark, but also the archival memory of the object. Benchmark as a print is a record of time and people, however a benchmark also alludes to a possible future. Sit here, and Think Which Way, is a line from a poem, To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvel, as the found object of the bench is placed opposite the print. It asks the viewer to relate to the object and their affiliation with such mark making as well as it’s exposed history. The bench was found in a public park in which I played as a child. The bench was there already and it therefore bares traces of over three decades of sitters, who perhaps sat there made a mark and/or contemplated. For the purpose of making the print for Benchmark the planks had to be removed without causing alarm and replaced with new planks. The bench as art object now bares traces of its own existence as a public bench, as well as that of being rolled up with ink and printed. However in the gallery this bench loses its original function or relationship with the sitter, the sitter becomes the viewer, and therefore the bench is now a placeholder or signifier of its former object-hood. This work exposes the assertion of existence, which we take out on objects, as well as the record of our own passing. The title: Sit Here and Think Which Way, is an invitation and a command, taking the emphasis off the object and back to the viewer as participator, in the present and the suggested future.

Gift aka Pink Is For Girls, 2008, (5 x 4 m installation)

Gift aka Pink Is For Girls, 2008, (5 x 4 m  installation)
Discarded plastic toys collected by IMOC, The Italian Motorcycle Club’s Toy Run, 600 nuts and bolts, perspex

Terra de Fume, October 2007, Charcoaled wood.

Terra de Fume, October 2007, Charcoaled wood.

Terra de Fume, October 2007, Charcoaled wood.

Terra de Fume, October 2007, Charcoaled wood.
Terra de Fume 2007, charcoaled wood, 194 x 32 (including frame) Sailing past Mosselbay in 1497, the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama saw so much smoke eminating from the coast of the Cape that he called it Terra de Fume, Earth of Smoke. What he probably observed were pastoralists, already inhabiting the Cape, burning vegetation to improve grazing for their live-stock. Much of fynbos is dependent on periodic fire for sprouting and flowering. One such fynbos species is a member of the proteaceae family, the Blushing Bride or Serruria Florida. At first glance, labouriously carving a Blushing Bride from wood and then subjecting it to fire speaks of a familiar renewal quality that we associate with funbos fires. In keeping with concerns of other of my works, the remainder of the block of wood from which the Blushing Bride was carved also forms an integral part of this work. The splinters and fragments were collected and similarly exposed to fire and transformed into charcoal. These fragments, which fill the bottom half of the box frame, are a metaphor for the work done, the process and the residue of labour or activity, and also the negative mass of the craved Blushing Bride. In process, Terra de Fume speaks of bathos and futility in the labour intensive activity which then in an instant is reduced to nothingness. However Terra de Fume explores two aspects: renewal as well as what sometimes feels like bathos, as small but decisive moments returns everything back to its formless origin. This work was conceived before the death of my father and has since achieved further personal (the Blushing Bride was used in my parents wedding bouquet and the height of the frame is equal to my father’s height) and metaphoric significance in regarding time and energy spent and the inevitable return to dust.

Terra de Fume, October 2007, Charcoaled wood.

Terra de Fume, October 2007, Charcoaled wood.

Le Marteau Sans Maitre (The Hammer Without Master) 2007

Le Marteau Sans Maitre (The Hammer Without Master) 2007
The sculpture entitled Le Marteau sans Maître (The Hammer Without Master) named after the 1930’s Surrealist poem by Rene Char and the subsequent 1955 composition by Pierre Boulez, who experimented with serial music using mathematics to create a predetermined series of values including rhythm, volume and pitch. The Le Marteau sans Maître, is Lynette Besters interpretation, but the title also has a direct affinity with the aim of this sculpture which seeks to re-establish some of the expectations of this particular found object, and the incident of the hammer with master. Created from a dilapidated stand-up piano, for Le Marteau sans Maître the piano was disassembled and deconstructed/ reconstructed. This process is central to the notion that the artist/viewer is able to put parts of information together during the act of art making/viewing, resulting in temporary disjunction between what is perceived as whole - or as part. Whatever is perceived or as the case may be, experienced is dependent on either association or recognition. Bester aims to accentuate the multiple genesis of information, signification and re-signification conceptually as well as in the creative process. The sculpture is constructed as an alternative sum of all the piano’s parts, including the expected sound. The result at once disarms the viewer of their expectations of the piano as object and cultural signifier, and provides them with clues to re-evaluate the object within a different paradigm. Simultaneously the parts have dictated their new employment, the art objects proportions, visual texture and the art making process. Le Marteau sans Maître is now a kinetic system of particular parts, which again creates sound, a final re-signification. “It reminds one of the machines by Jean Tinguely and Alice Aycock, Bester’s being more a mathematically constructed ‘machine’ of the absurd.” (Grobler, L. 2007 opening speech)

Untitled( Medusa), Violin and Horse Hair, 2005-9

Untitled( Medusa), Violin and Horse Hair, 2005-9
Untitled, (Medusa), was originally a sculpture created in 2005 during the THUPELO workshop. The violin was bought from the University of Cape Town, Music Department, and after studying its form for over a week, it was disassembled from its known and recognisable whole through smashing it before a passing Harington Street audience with a ten pound hammer. The fragments and splinters were collected and fastened together using brightly coloured elastic bands, banal and perishable everyday objects in relation to a previously respected object. To some it resembled a ship wreck, recognising its vessel form, to others it speaks of violent frenzy. Medusa refers to both the feared goddess Medusa, and the fallen ship Medusa in Theodore Gericault’s painting an iconic painting of imbalance of power and instinctual survival. The Elastic bands have long since perished and the sculpture achieved its full temporal state. Revisiting this sculpture, temporality and hybridity in cultural signs have become it become increasingly significant for Bester. New practical problems had to be solved which would in turn create new signification. The act of smashing, still seen in marks of trauma on the fragments, still disarms the culturally significant object, but this time the banality of the elastic bands, have been replaced with blonde horse hair, intended for the violin’s bow. However instead of being able to assist in the production of music, the hair muffles the already broken parts, cacooning it but also strangling it. Perhaps this time Medusa had been silenced. Again the violin is reassembled into a foreign form, its recognisable and significant parts speak to the viewer on a personal and cultural level.

Untitled, Medusa I, Charcoal and Pitt on Cotton Paper, 2006 70 x 90 cm

Untitled, Medusa I, Charcoal and Pitt on Cotton Paper, 2006 70 x 90 cm

Heart: Dimensions Variable, 2005

Heart: Dimensions Variable, 2005

Heart: Dimensions Variable, 2005, 120 x 120 x 70 cm, 30mm super wood

Heart: Dimensions Variable, 2005, 120 x 120 x 70 cm, 30mm super wood
Heart: Dimensions Variable (2005) is a volumetric puzzle, constructed by assembling flat puzzle pieces to create a complete three-dimensional icon of a heart constructed on an ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’ axis. The pieces are cut from 30 mm super wood at specific angles that interlock to create the three-dimensional shape, 120 x 120 x 70cm. The work sprouts from the notion that the artist/viewer is able to put parts of information together during the act of art making/viewing, resulting in what is perceived as whole - or as art - but this wholeness is temporary and dependent on either association or recognition. On the one hand, Bester approaches the three-dimensional puzzle as a mathematical exercise whilst engaging and focusing on the process of making. On the other hand, hers’ is a quest into discovering the possibilities of the sculptural object itself: She explores the ways in which the object can be assembled, reassembled and reconfigured in different spaces and to different extent -still recognizable yet always temporal. Dimensions Variable can be displayed in various stages of assembly therefore existing between sculpture and installation.
Build-It, promotional pop-out flyer for YDEsire at the Castle of Good Hope,
the Forth Soft Serve Event, 2003

1000 of these paper puzzles were distributed in Long Street Cape Town in the lead up to the YDEsire event. Sponsored by Young Designers Emporium, which at the time promoted street fashion and youth culture which did not have a platform in mainstream retail, the event was hosted at the Castle by Soft Serve, a Public Eye initiative, curated by James Webb and encouraged to respond to the site specific location of the Castle of Good Hope and the concept of Desire because of the date's proximity to Valentines Day and the beginning of the second Gulf War. The parts of the puzzle could be popped out from the sheet and built to form a three dimensional heart. Words are also spelled out depending on how the puzzle is built saying the following: "Castles in the Sky", "Blinded by the Light", and "Cape of Good Hope".

Untitled (Sphere), r = 35cm, 2003
Super wood

A sculpture made for VOYAGE VISION, a collaborative Fashion and Art Event, held at Studio One, Cape Town, initiated by Trevor Mitchel's CAPSULE CREATIVE. The sculpture was envisaged as an interactive puzzle during a Live fashion insert by MILK, challenging the untouchable status of traditional art. This sculpture has also been featured in an group exhibition at the Association of Visual Arts, entitled BALL SPORTS in 2009, curated by Kirsty Cockerill, in the lead up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup hosted by South Africa, but also ambiguously raising gender and power issues in the games people play.

Book Spheres, r = 2,5cm, 2002
These paper spheres, one full and one hollow, are part of a body of work entitled WHOLES CUT OUT, produced in partial fulfillment of a M A in F A at the University of Stellenbosch. I developed a mathematical equation which describes a three dimensional sphere built on an "x", "y" and "z" axis in terms of a two dimensional object. I specifically chose objects which had numbers or text printed on them. This approach resulted in me cutting up everything from sheets of stamps, cigarette boxes, coasters, money and eventually my Masters Thesis and building two spheres from its pages. The thesis with the WHOLES CUT OUT was handed in in a custom made box.
Curriculum Vitae: Lynette Bester

Tertiary Education
PhD in Visual Arts (2009- --)specializing in object based sculpture under the tuition of Prof. Keith Dietrich.
MA in Visual Arts (Cum Laude)(2000-2002) specializing in sculpture under the tuition of Alan Alborough.
BA Fine Arts (1996-1999) Majoring in painting and printmaking,
University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, Tel: + 27 21 808 3052

Matriculated with Senior Certificate. Second In the Western Cape for Art Practical and History. Pinelands High School, Pinelands, Cape Town, South Africa(1991-1995)
Voluntary Student majoring in painting, mixed media, calligraphy and ceramics. Frank Joubert Art Centre, Rondebosch, South Africa. (1985-1995)

Current occupation:
Head of Theory and Art History Department, lecturing in History of Typography, History of Jewellery Design, Cultural Studies and Co-ordinator of the Third Year Theoretical Dissertations. Lecturer of mixed media Jewellery design, alternative media studies and figure drawing. Ruth Prowse School Of Art, Birkdale Avenue. Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa. (2004-present)

Other Work Experience:
Part-time lecturer in theory to first, second, and third year students and co-coordinator of third year Mini-monograph project. Michaelis School Of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa. (2005)
Part-time lecturer in Object Drawing. College of Cape Town, Western Cape Education Department, South Africa. (2004)
External Theory Examiner first, second, third and forth year End of Year Written Examinations. Michaelis School Of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, South Africa. (2004)
Part-time Three Dimensional Design and Mixed Media Design Lecturer. Sivuyile College, Guguletu, Cape Town, South Africa. (2002)

Artists’ Workshops and Residencies attended:
2009 - BRISONS VEOR, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, with Collaborative Group:
CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST, September-October 2009.
2008 - DWAYER International Workshop, Atelier D’Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt.
2006/7 - Tolgate Plaza, Woodstock, Cape Town, South Africa.
2006 - Bijou Art Studios, Observatory, South Africa.
2005 - Thupelo International artists’ workshop, Cape Town
2003 - EXFOLIATE, Co-ordinated by Norman O’Flynn at Greatmore Studios, Woodstock,
Cape Town, South Africa.

2009 - The National Trust , United Kingdom, sponsorship of a collaborative performative
installation investigation of distance and proximity in relation to communication with
the collaborative group, CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST.
2009 - Bursary awarded for the commencement of Doctoral studies by the Dean at the
University of Stellenbosch.
2001 - Merit Bursary from the University of Stellenbosch for the Completion of Masters

2007 - ABSA Atelier ,Top Ten Finalist with Hammer Without Master, (piano)
2006 - Sasol New Signatures Finalist with Heart: Dimensions Variable, and Untitled (violin).
1999 - New Signatures Finalist, Art B. Association of Visual Arts Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa.
1995 - Second in the Fairheads Trust Art Competition hosted at the Michaelis School Of Fine Art, University
of Cape Town, South Africa.

2009 - CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST, Balloons and public memory performative piece in
England Cape Cornwall, Priests Cove as part of THIS WEEKEND? Bosarts and National Trust initiative.
2009 - IN TRANSIT: A day-residency at VISITOR with Liza Grobler.
2009 - SNAIL MAIL PROJECT: a long term interactive writing project over distance.
2003 - EXFOLIATE: collaborative collage piece with Madi Phala.

Solo Exhibitions:
2005 HEART: DIMENSIONS VARIABLE at Blank Projects, 198 Upper
Buitengracht Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
2002 WHOLES CUT OUT at the Cold Room, 158 Harrington Street, Cape Town,
South Africa.

Selected Group Exhibitions:
THIS WEEKEND?A Performative Installation with the Collaborative Group, CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST. A Bosarts and National Trust initiative, Cape Cornwall, England. (2009)
IN BLACK AND WHITE, at the Bell-Roberts Gallery, Woodstock, Cape Town. (2009)
SOCIAL PATTERN at the Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town (2009)
TUSSEN NATUUR EN AVONTUUR, Suidoosterfees, Artscape, Cape Town. Curated by Liza Grobler. (2009)
BETWEEN MEANING AND MATTER: Bell-Roberts Gallery, Woodstock. (2008)
BARING: Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town. (2008)
PRINT ’08: Bell-Roberts Gallery, Woodstock, Sir Lowry Road. (2008)
GREENHOUSE: FROM PAINT TO PLASTIC, Lourensford Estate, Cape Town, Bell-Roberts Gallery. (2007)
BALL SPORTS, at the Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town. (2007)
WITHOUT MASTER at the Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town. (2007)
PAPER AND ME with Michael Taylor, Adrienne van Eden, Marna Hattingh, Joanne Halse, Hannah Morris and Jeanne Hoffmann, at the Association of Visual Arts, Cape Town.(2007)
WASTE AT WORK, Spier Wine Farm, Presented by Jeanetta Blignaut for COEO in association with Spier and Hollard Insurance. (2006)
THE COLLAGE SHOW, What If The World, Woodstock,Curated by Micheal Taylor (2006)
The Cape Town Biennale, Presented by Andrew Lamprecht, and Curated by: Kathy Coates at Blank Projects, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town South Africa. (2006)
AFETOS ROUBADOS/STOLEN AFFECTIONS, Goethe Institute, Bahai, Brazil. (2005)
EXFOLIATE, a print-making collaboration with Anthony Caywood, Norman O'Flynn, Madi Phala, Thembeka, Qangule, Sonja Rademeyer, Velile Soya, Barbara Wildenboer at Art. B. Association of Visual Arts, Belllville. (2004)
The 4th Soft Serve Event,YDESIRE,Castle of Good Hope,Cape Town,South Africa(2003)
NEW SIGNATURES regional Finalists Exhibition, Art B. Association of Visual Arts, Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa.(2000)

Elected interim co-chairperson with Gabi Ncgobo of VANSA Western Cape also serving as Communications Secretary as of 14 March 2005, until December 2005. (2003-5)
Member, elected committee member of the Steering Committee of VANSA, Visual Arts Network of South Africa, for the Western Cape, serving as General Secretary. (2003-5)
Committee member of the Association of Visual Arts, serving on the Selection Committee and convener of the committee. (2004-8)
Member of the Association for Visual Arts. (1995-present)