Taking time out of her busy schedule, Caitlin sits down to answer some questions for the second installment of our monthly artist feature. Such a genuine and enlightened soul beaming with artistic energy. It is always a great pleasure to see and work with her on both an artistic and professional level.
Musician, artist, realist, dreamer – step into the world of Caitlin and see what inspires her to create her wonderful masterpieces.
What sparked your interest in creating art?
I remember around the age of three years old, being in my cot, under moonlight, convinced there were enormous bugs all over my bed. Half asleep, there was a blur between dreams and time awake. When I was five, I also had a revelation after drawing in my garden: I wished to myself then that I could do that for the rest of my life. Before 2000, before DSTV was a thing in my household, my late grandad used to send me VHS tapes from Newcastle (UK) of recordings of the old cartoon network with Atom Ant, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio and Scooby Doo. I felt a resonance with cartoons because, to me, it was the one medium that could portray the movement of imagination very well.
Since then, I had busied my hands doodling or fidgeting with objects that make sounds as well as observing textures – especially those of old buildings or in nature. It has always been a way to bring whimsy to my immediate surroundings as I generally am uninspired by things man-made that don’t have a certain kind of beauty to them. I often gravitate to emptiness and the lack of humans in a space. I also have memories from another time that don’t relate to this mode of being.
I think I denied this part of me for a while and tried very hard to extinguish my flame to fit into the world because I learned very early that it’s not what is “productive” or “useful” in a capitalist society. I choked from my own smoke when I tried to stifle the flames until, at 16 I decided I need this to keep myself alive. The reasons are of a different frequency, similar to meditation.
My art was not only limited to pen and paper as from an early age I also used to record a lot with my little tape player . At eight years of age, my late grandad gave me a battery powered CASIO SA-8 kids keyboard that I still own to this day, so between recording spoken nonsense, playing random notes and sounds I’d have very echoey, crunchy recordings which almost feel like practice for a lot of what I’m involved with now in the Cape Town based visual and sonic ensemble, Morning Pages. We’re expanding among ourselves in terms of what instruments we can play or sounds we can make. It’s challenging and intimidating but I remind myself that it has never been external to who I am. At 10 I was introduced to drums and the seed was planted and has sprouted into a wonderfully expressive art form from there.
Where are you based? Why there?
I was born and grew up in Johannesburg where I spent a lot of time as a child in the garden pretending I lived in the wild. Later, I decided moved to Cape Town to study Fine Art at Michaelis and after I got my degree I chose to stay because being close to nature feels like I am fulfilling the dream-like spaces I made in my mind while growing up. It also nourishes my practice, general mood and silently teaches me knowledge that isn’t of the city. Morning Pages is also dear to my heart and something I’d been searching for throughout my life. If at this point I had not found it yet, I’d still be searching for it today.
How would you describe your art?
I’m informed by my experience making improvised, abstract sounds and from spending time experimenting with how, by chance, different mediums react with each other on paper. I don’t believe in should or shouldn’t unless there’s a specific vision that eventually unfolds, but I try to be as loose as possible about the whole process.
It’s a way of making that is emotional, sometimes clumsy. A stream of consciousness or meditation, a mode of alignment, which holds meaning through mark making, has layers upon layers of mental notes – some erased over with other marks – expresses abstract thoughts & clues from another realm until I step back and see the puzzle pieces of a message. It is also an expression of loss and utter sadness about the lack of concern we have for our own environment, escapism, stubborn optimism and the best way I show love to others.
Sometimes I illustrate on 300g watercolour paper, on home-made recycled paper, on clothes or shoes people already own. I switch between acrylic paints, ink, pen ink, fabric paint and vegetable inks. I’m slowly moving into hand poke tattoos. All materials for all my art-making are completely vegan.
What inspires you to create art?
International: @freeorgy @muhannad.shono @johnkenmortensen @ycalper @adrainbaxter_ @blialcabal @ibayarifin @herecomeseverybody @mister_caitlin @sophiarapata @wuun_
What has been your best memory/experience related to your art?
There are moments from Morning Pages’ 2016 “Vernal Equinox” album launch and tour along the east coast that I hold very dear to my heart, so much so I have the part of album artwork I created permanently on my skin. As a collective we planned, funded, made projected visuals, album art and recorded everything ourselves. Reaching our final destination, Hogsback, was beautiful. I get teary eyed just thinking of it. Just like the wish I made in the garden when I was a child, this too solidified the wish to do this everyday: to travel more, to see as much nature as possible, to make art and music with the people I resonate with the most.
I find that all my memories are linked in a synchronistic chain that has lead me to this point. Certain mistakes, meetings, bizarre successes, external support, losses, collaborations and chance encounters were all forms of magic that got me here to where I luckily can do this everyday. I’m very grateful and very happy.
What is your favorite art form both to create and to collect?
Gritty illustrations with intricate detail or line work and unusual, low frequency sounds always have a resonance with me. I like encounters that aren’t forced – almost like stumbling into someone’s cave of art or sounds or being there during their process is more meaningful to me than a glossy final product on a random wall, as if it just willed itself there. I think it’s more living this process with other artists that I can’t live without.
What other interests/hobbies do you have?
As I am sure you have figured out by now, I am 1/3rd of Morning Pages visual and sonic ensemble. I also love exploring/being/walking/swimming in nature, growing plants, reading, watching documentaries/talks/movies, researching alternative living and yoga.
What do you do in your spare time to relax and unwind?
Water revives me. Visiting the mystical 3-toned Kleinplaas dam at Red Hill is my favourite retreat. The water’s colour runs in a downward tier of yellow, orange/red and purple. Nearby, the scenery looks like post-apocalyptic ruins surrounded by sci-fi rocks and fynbos on the top of a mountain. A depressing history of forced removals haunts the space-like, natural beauty. It is the highest, most remote point I can get to where I am closest to the stars.