Ella Cronje

Ms. Ella Cronjé is a South African artist/sculptor based in the city of Cape Town. Prior to becoming a professional within the field of fine and applied Arts, she specialized in ceramic production and design for 14 consecutive years. It was during these constructive years as a full-time ceramicist that she acquired many of the distinctive process skills (as well as the technical dexterity) that now enable her to realize a miscellany of contentious sculptures. Her conceptual aptitude and consistent interest in myths, fables and legends provide her with a diversity of subversive multi-cultural narratives to rethink, re-contextualize and re-assemble. 

Although Ella received mentorship and guidance from several established artist friends and colleagues, she functions predominantly as a self-taught artist. By perceiving every new day as raw potential for the imagining of new transmutations, beasts, seraphs or hybrid objects, she allows the unexpected to guide her deeper into a fantastic psychological arena - a fertile mind-space that facilitates the continuous birth of highly intricate symbolic sculptures.   

Artist Statement:

As a sculptor, my preferred medium is ceramic/clay. It is the medium I feel most comfortable with due to its tactile capacity to easily respond to my fluctuating emotional states and rapid thought patterns whilst creating sculptures. The original sculptures that are produced for my bronze-cast works are also executed in clay for more or less the same reason - the tactile nature and transformative properties of the medium and the way in which it corresponds to my emotive instinct. 

My inspiration is an ever-expanding plethora of ideas connected to mythology, fables, psychology essays (Freud, Skinner, C.G. Jung et al) and philosophical writings (Michel Foucault, J. Derrida, J.F. Lyotard on Metanarratives & Anti-Capitalism, Nietzsche and others).

Classical fiction novels by George Perec (absence, loss, identity), George Orwell (Dystopian narratives), Virginia Woolf (novels written using the almost 'automatist' stream-of-consciousness as a means to develop fresh narrative), Henry Miller and others also contribute to my understanding of the Self, the 'Other' and the protean nature of the human psyche. Graphic novels, vintage children's books, as well as novels that have reached cult status, impact my perspective of life as a subliminal journey. This journey that I refer to, is filled with crossroads and intersections that reinvent or deconstruct my reality without end.  

I am greatly intrigued and influenced by the art of storytelling; especially if the story being told is unpredictable and uncensored by rational cognition and/or logical censorship. My preoccupation with transcendental states of consciousness, 'pure Psychic automatism', and the mutable realm of the unconscious aid me in creating my own stories in the form of metaphorical sculpture.

The art of storytelling is ancient and has functioned as a psychological generator and register for thousands of years. It may very well be the only psychological register that link our psychic modes of experience to the spiritual and genetic memory of our predecessors. Tales told in a state of trance tend to expose the spiritual and generally muted primitive/animal side of the human brain. My obsession with stories told in such a state confirms my natural inclination towards contemporary Surrealism and the techniques originally utilized by the proto-Surrealists to invoke tactile artworks (sculptures) of an irrational order. 

As an individual that finds it somewhat hard to express myself using words, it becomes essential for me to map out my own subjective register through the cultivation of honest and unmediated artworks. Through this process I hope and aim to conjure up a new original story or contemporary myth that I can share with others. It is my conviction that my conceptual art and often controversial sculptures signify my attempt to establish a personal visual language. Although sculpture is my primary art practice, any art that I create serves as a form of symbolic narrative, and so assists me in describing how I experience and observe the world around me.

Concise CV:


1990-1993: Textile Design - Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

2000-2014: Owner of a ceramic production factory and business

2016-2018: Fine Arts Mentorship programme - Christiaan Diedericks


Art Residencies:

The Cité internationale des arts (Paris) – 2017

Anima Casa Rural (Mexico) - 2018

During the past five years Ms. Ella Cronje has participated in numerous group exhibitions and art fairs locally.

She had her first solo exhibition in 2017 at Rust n Vrede Gallery/Clay Museum (Cape Town). This ensued shortly after she completed her art residency in Paris.

Another art residency in Mexico in 2018 culminated in a group exhibition in Guadalajara.

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