Oct 12 – Nov 4, 2017


Tanya Poole The Island

Everard Read CIRCA Cape Town is pleased to present The Island. Tanya Poole’s first solo exhibition with the Everard Read Gallery and opens on the 12th October at 18:30pm. A portfolio is available upon request.

The Island serves as a fresh investigation for Poole, into a full range of technical and painterly approaches. Flowing in open-ended and flexible consideration, it addresses various conceptual concerns on both canvas and paper that started organically whilst on residency in 2016.


The artist explains:

“During a residency created in Canggu on the island of Bali in Indonesia, I found a small plastic box with two paper palm trees inside. Overwhelmed by the saturated heat, beauty and congestion of the island I started working with this miniature and manageable replica of paradise as a trigger for ideas.

I was interested in the spate of palm tree paintings in South Africa as well as the notion of paradise as expressed by the tropical island aesthetic of Ofili and Doig. Gauguin hovered in the background with his white patriarchial approach and painterly complexity.

I considered my own upbringing on a series of islands: Newfoundland - or 'The Rock',  geographically  rising up between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Strait of Belle Isle; England, sitting wet between the Irish, Celtic and North Seas and the English Channel; and Bahrain, basking between the Bahraini and Persian Gulfs.

Back in my studio in South Africa I started forming a construction of my own imaginary island and its inhabitants which provided me with an imaginative metaphor for the reality of my daily studio practice and the contingent challenges of the formal considerations of painting.

I took pleasure in being able to take the reductive reality of the (now suitcase-battered) plastic palm tree box and extrapolate from it large compositions of sublime and constructed paradises. The paint in the palm tree renderings  is colouristically saturated and technically descriptive, like a vivid dream -  tropicana hues and cellophane-crisp edges. It wasn’t a stretch to take imagery from reality TV: episodes of Naked and Afraid and The Island with Bear Grylls provided me with visual imagery to help populate my island with its women inhabitants, visual stand-ins for my own relationships. In contrast to the palm trees, the paintings of the inhabitants of The Island are looser and more gestural, evoking their experiences and emotional responses.

The palm tree box, survival reality TV and the narratives of the imagination – they are all equally at odds with reality in their own artifice. Much like a painter in her studio.

Tanya Poole, 2017


Tanya Poole was raised in the Middle East and the UK and South Africa. She obtained her MFA from Rhodes University in 1999. She is currently a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Painting Section in Rhodes University's Fine Art Department. Poole lives in Grahamstown with her husband Nigel Mullins and exhibits regularly nationally and internationally.