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Margot Hattingh 2008
I developed a passion for drawing and painting at an early age, and while still very young decided that I
wanted to become an artist. I have had some formal training, but am mostly self-taught.
In my early 20’s, instead of the planned move to Paris to further my art studies, I went on a safari and
fell totally in love with the bush. An enduring fascination and passion for Africa, both as an idea as well
as a place, was born.
From the mid '70's for the next 12 years, my partner and I permanently lived and traveled in the wild
places of Southern Africa and what was then South West Africa (Namibia). We worked for the Dept of
Nature Conservation in South West Africa. At one stage, I ran the Halali restaurant in Etosha, another
time we managed Terrace Bay, a fishing resort on the far north Skeleton Coast Park. The above photo
shows me and my free ranging pet crow, Torra. In our spare time we photographed and wrote articles
on wildlife as well as our first book, "Etosha - Life and Death on an African Plain" published by Struik in
South Africa, and Collins in England and Germany.
After some years in Namibia, my partner had a yen to return to his roots in Natal. After the success of
the book Etosha, we decided to do one on Zululand. We worked on the book full-time, the proceeds of
Etosha supporting our next effort. "Zululand - A Wildlife Heritage" was published in 1984.
Unfortunately, that marriage eventually failed. I subsequently met someone else, a businessman, we got
married and had a son. My life was turned upside down as I left the bush and returned to city life.
Motherhood and a move to the Cape expanded and deepened my perception and understanding of the
underlying, mostly sub-conscious connection between humans and what we like to think of as ‘our’ world.
In the same way that there is a heartbeats’ space between action and reaction, there is a gap –
sometimes a chasm – between us and everything in our environment. In there, I believe we imbue
people, animals, places and things with our ‘shadow selves’. This is where I find my work.
On the surface the artworks may seem to range from highly realistic/figurative to abstract, but beneath
that, they are all concerned with recording my explorations of an ever changing perception of reality –
physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and of course mythical.
Profoundly rooted in Africa but with an inevitable overlay of European culture and history I strive to
develop a new reality where the two supposedly opposing cultures come together in a synthesis greater
and more beautiful than the sum of its parts.
I paint people and places, but return time and time again to what I call “Beasts” obsessed/possessed by
certain animals and themes. I try to not only capture some physical likeness, some sense of ‘Presence’
but also to materialise the essentially invisible essence of the particular subject.
Technically the images are worked with a variety of media – sometimes singly, more often mixed on
paper, masonite, wood, canvas or perspex. I use pastels, both oil and chalk, watercolour, acrylic, oils,
resin and wax encaustic.
I enjoy printmaking, etching, collograph and monotype printing, as well as bronze sculpture, both
relatively new directions for me. I continue to photograph subjects that interest me, including an ongoing
project on dance, capturing movement and feeling rather than just the pose.
I am currently exploring ways to incorporate my own wildlife photographic images with painting and
drawing, as well as expanding my techniques in wax encaustic.
I still write in my notebooks as part of my process, and some short examples of writing are to be found
here, here and here.