Meet Artist Monique Prinsloo of Cape Town, South Africa
Interview by Nicole Danielle
Photography by Monique Prinsloo
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am Monique Prinsloo, a 32-year-young creative living and working in Cape Town, South Africa.
Forever an artist by heart, I am extremely proud of and inspired by our beautiful continent. My partner and I regularly travel throughout South Africa and our neighbouring countries, more often than not off the beaten track, and I document our adventures on film as much as I possibly can. My cameras are extensions of my being. By no means do I see myself as a photographer, but I have been in love with the medium for years; the feeling of anticipation, surprise and the magical gift of each developed roll of film cannot be surpassed.
Tuesdays to Fridays, however, I head up the creative research department at a boutique production company in Cape Town. I work alongside a group of inspirational directors, and I have recently branched into the world of storyboards where I have managed to merge my training in fine arts with my recently acquired knowledge in film production.
Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I have always had an interest in the arts, whether music, theatre or fine art. But my mother was my biggest inspiration and supporter – as a creative herself she was constantly pushing me to create more and aim higher – so a lot of credit is owed to her. Moreover, my grandfather was an artist, carpenter, and best of all – a violin maker (that is a story for a different day). So I have to admit; art is in my blood.
How did you ultimately determine the type of career you were most passionate about?
It took me a while to finally go and study art. Straight out of school I volunteered in a performing arts company for two years, and after that I started studying architecture at UCT. My drawing lecturer there was incredibly inspiring, and he urged me to focus more on drawing – after which I switched my studies towards fine art. In hindsight, there were so many contributing factors that steered me towards where I am now.
Where did you study art?
I finally studied Fine Art at Stellenbosch University, followed by an MFA at Michaelis School of Fine Arts, UCT.
Garden Route, South Africa
Is there someone or something specific that inspires you?
My inspiration for many of my works have come from Haruki Murakami literature. But lately I have been mesmerised by an artist on Instagram – Caroline Denervaud (@ideih). Words cannot express the poetic beauty of her work – do yourself a favour and take a peek at her world on Instagram.
How does living in South Africa influence your work?
Living in South Africa has influenced me more in my photography than in my Fine Art. It is quite embarrassing, but I don't feel like I have found a South African voice just yet, if that makes sense? But I am hoping it will change... I am workshopping some ideas that I might collaborate on with my partner (who is a photographer) but they are very much still on the drawing board.
Is travelling overseas a big influence as well?
Travelling locally within Africa is definitely more inspirational than travelling internationally! I attended the Gerrit Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam as an exchange student, and yes, it opened up my view on the scale of art and the impact it has on the world. But there is something about the rawness of Africa, its flaws, its raw beauty, the fact that things can take a turn for the worse and suddenly surprise you, that just cannot be met in a first world scenario.
But I am young. And I still have an urge to travel the whole world – so perhaps I will sing a different tune in a couple of years.
What has been your most memorable experience so far?
I think Lesotho has definitely surprised me on many levels. Being there in winter, the landscape strangely reminded me of Iceland (I was fortunate enough to go there on an artist residency).
These two places are so similar – the beautifully friendly people, the mountains, waterfalls and snow – yet so far removed from each other. But Lesotho and Iceland are high on my list, and then Namibia. I love the desolate landscapes of the Namibian desert and I find the loneliness strangely soothing.
What camera do you use?
My favourite camera is an old medium format Zenza Bronica and it is fantastic and heavy and bulky as hell and its shutter is so loud, I love it!
It belongs to my mother in law – and it lights up my world when I see her expression as I take out her camera to take a photograph. There is something incredible about knowing the person who for so many years looked through the exact same lens.
What advice can you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Ask questions, research, experiment, and most of all – play. I still need to work on that.
Play is the hardest part of being an artist but definitely the most rewarding – you might feel like you are making mistakes, or feel the need to "colour within the lines". But I've found that my most successful pieces have resulted from pure accidents, like playing around in the darkroom or testing out something on a medium I've not worked on before.
The most rewarding aspect about taking photographs?
I find it rewarding when someone looks at something I've created and just keeps staring. I love that.