Zelda Stroud, lecturer at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, while on a residency at the prestigious Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.
On 18 January, the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology unveiled the two busts of Dedan Kimathi and former President Nelson Mandela in Nairobi. Kimathi fought against colonial rule in Kenya and Mandela against apartheid in South Africa.
This was Stroud’s first international sculpting commission.
However, several of her life-size sculptures of icons of South Africa’s struggle for freedom also stand tall at the National Heritage Monument and the Women’s Living Heritage Monument, both in Pretoria. A 2.5m statue of Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo in the international arrivals hall at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg also carries her signature, together with that of postgraduate students, Cow Mash and Paballo Majella.
Stroud also spent January in France as part of the residency at the Cité for which she applied. The residency, her second, was sponsored by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA) and is awarded on the merit of a portfolio of artworks and an artistic project proposal.
Cité was established in 1965 and provides studios for artists from all around the world to live and make work in France for a set period of time. Annually, more than 1 000 artists from over 50 countries get accepted into the program.
“The residency is in the most wonderful location in Paris, with easy access to museums (many for free because of a Cité Museum Card) and other beautiful and inspiring sites,” says Stroud.
“There are dozens of other visual artists, from all over the world, also on their own residencies, so it is an opportunity to network with others, make new friends, and to share ideas and one’s own work. This is also why one has the opportunity to host an Open Studio – effectively an exhibition of work that one has produced whilst in Paris,” she adds.
She says she finds it a bit challenging to produce sculptures while there (Paris), so she decided to work on etchings during this, second residency.
“I produced six etchings in South Africa and took the limited-edition prints along to work on whilst in Paris. There I sewed items onto the etchings with red embroidery thread, and, in addition, used the opportunity to put together a small installation of written quotes/ideas/thoughts – also connected to each other with red thread. This culminated in my Open Studio exhibition which was attended by Cité residents as well as members of the public, at which I also found more volunteers/subjects for my continuing series of etchings about women and their various passions/vulnerabilities.”
These new etchings will be made in South Africa, but Stroud will be taking them to Vancouver and Seattle in July “hopefully to exhibit there while visiting family, and whilst finding more volunteers.”
Asked how such a residency, which is considered very prestigious in art circles, influences one’s art making, Stroud says: “My art making is definitely influenced by the physical exposure to the work of other artists (as opposed to seeing work on the internet or in the media). Seeing the work of other artists, in an international setting, has the effect of filling one with awe and inspiration when the work is good, and with confidence and determination when the work is mediocre or bad.”
“I feel incredibly privileged to have had the experience of being a resident at Cité, and am eternally grateful to everyone at SANAVA for enabling the opportunity,” Stroud concludes.