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Lady Skollie challenges patriarchal gallery spaces and presents a fresh perspective on the art world

As a feminist artist and activist, Lady Skollie uses her practice to raise issues related to sex, gender, race, and identity politics. She received her BA in art history and Dutch literature from the University of Cape Town in 2009 and her work has simce been exhibited throughout South Africa. To commemorate South Africa’s 25th anniversary of democracy, she was commissioned to design a new five Rand coin. Born Laura Windvogel, she adopted the moniker Lady Skollie, which refers to a derogatory Afrikaans term for a person of colour. Lady Skollie uses watercolour paintings and crayon and ink drawings to critique patriarchal systems and gender- based violence, as well as spark discussion about pleasure and consent. She draws inspiration from the Khoisan indigenous people of southern Africa for her colourful and god-like figures.

Glamour: Can you tell us about your artist name, “Lady Skollie” , what was the inspiration behind it?

Lady Skollie: This is one of the most frequently asked questions in my career; it just highlights how there are words used to control the movement and access of people in South Africa. A brown person can be stereotyped to be a SKOLLIE or a thug or a gangster or loud and we never consider how these attempt to control us mentally. I think I always perceived my mother to be a very classy thug and the moniker LADY SKOLLIE just helped me understand the ambiguity of being a brown person in a place as complex as South Africa.

G: How has being a woman affected your career in the art space in South Africa ?

LS: Why don’t people ask men this question? I think the only way that it has affected me is that my subject matter is often about the different ways society tries to silence the feminine. Control the feminine. See it as something to be kept in a cage and perceived and controlled.

Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

Where do you draw inspiration from and how would you describe your artistic style?

I draw my inspiration from being a so-called Coloured in a place where we know little to nothing about our origin. Lucky for us, origin can also be felt and taught and learned from others.

What advice would you give to emerging female artists entering the art world?

Buy art supplies before buying anything else. Keep your job because it allows you to be bored and look forward to a day when art can be your job. Never underestimate what being bored can teach you.

To date, what artwork/series of works do you find pivotal for your career?

My first international show LUST POLITICS (2017) and my first show as a represented artist in South Africa with Everard Read Gallery in 2019 called GOOD & EVIL and of course designing a R5 coin for the South African Mint in 2019.

What role do you think the arts have to play in the world right now - how do you feel about the future of the arts?

Art is a comment on society and I think at the moment art is a bit boring because the market is saturated with many things that look the same, social media used to help us bring our art to the masses but now it serves as a kind of sinkhole of many things that are somehow one thing.

Who are some other artists you admire?

Lucinda Mudge, Helen Sebidi, Lucky Sibiya, Athi Patra Ruga, cave painters from thousands of years ago, Joe Leshoka Legoata, Keleketla! Library, David Krut.

What’s next for Lady Skollie ?

Winning Standard Bank Young artist of the year was something I’ve wanted since I was 13. Now that I’ve done it I am working on achieving even bigger dreams and opening up the art world even more. It’s a scary made-up place with perceived value and thus it’s important to teach people how it works and how to infiltrate it. Oh and being a mother. I waited good and long to attempt this part of my life so I guess, yes I’m looking forward to that too.

This article was originally published in our June/July ‘Disruptors’ issue. Get your digital copy here, or pick up a physical copy now available in stores.

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