Philippa Graff

Johannesburg, South Africa

After graduating until 2010, I was an art teacher at various schools.   This time marks my delving back into painting with a renewed energy. I was experimenting in style and subject matter.  I explored realism and abstract, collage and thin washes of dripped paint. South Africa hosted the Soccer World Cup. I drew inspiration from my country, the wild life and my home.  I researched trees and nature.



– represents a sold painting

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I am now working on the sensual aspect of the collective tree – The Forest.. I have broadened my visual sense, to work alongside , and to embrace, my sense of touch. My feelings of cold, shivers down my back, dampness on my under souls , and goosebumps on my arms and legs, embraces me while I am at one with nature. My sense of touch continues to prickle as I rub my fingertips against the towering scaly, tree trunks. The branches emerge at diverse angles out of the trunk, and finally shoot further into a smaller network of spiky twigs, they crisscross into a mesh like net, that spreads across the skyline of the forest, as if it were a spider web.

I enjoy the rhythmic pattern that is formed by the vertical pillars of the trees. The upright regal trees give me comfort. They are strong and masculine and provide me with a sense of completeness, a feeling that reflects back to my youth. The forest is ‘my sanctury’ and a place that allows me to be a free spirit.

The forest filters light into the otherwise shadowy space and sunlight glows unexpectedly down onto the earth in irregular intervals. As I emerge from the forest and go indoors, I am blinded by the change of light and I have to adjust my eyes. Once focused, I experience the same visual joy of the forest, but now by having my feet touch the cold quarry tiled floor, and then the kelim rug. I am entranced by the beautiful pattern, woven into a carpet with earthy colours and executed by a master weaver from another land, from Persia, India, Turkey. The pattern is symbolic, and relevant to a “primitive” society.

Again my sense of touch, warmth and home, spreads through my body and I relish in the feeling. I feast on the aesthetics, design and intellectual stimulation that my home provided for me in my youth and stays with me always.

My paintings express the profound effects of both the indoor and outdoor. They are tactile, emotional culminations of my relationship with nature and in specific the forest and its surrounds. They portray my obsession with pattern and textiles. My paintings are executed with sincerity and honesty. They show my passion for paint and colour, design and texture.


I capture the moment in photo. It is the unplanned, involuntary visual experience that I translate into compositions on canvas. As a child the forest at the bottom of my garden seemed to symbolise the essence of nature in an urban context. Rather than work from the generic concept of a tree, I have been more specific in accessing the soul of particular kinds of trees. Referring to the ancient Celtic symbolism that was used as an alphabet, I have brought into existence personal metaphors for the feelings associated with those trees. Thus each painting evokes a specific mood that connotes that kind of tree. The contemporary works seem to make manifest my preoccupation with mark making and colour, conveying my profound response to the world as I personally experience it.

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