Mandy Conidaris

Mandy Conidaris has been Johannesburg-based for most of her life, and has recently relocated to Surrey, England. Her field is contemporary South African visual art, and she has a specialist interest in South African prints and printmaking.

Her art practice primarily comprises printmaking, in particular watercolour monotypes, screenprints and relief prints (linocut and woodcut), and she follows a low-toxicity studio approach. Mandy also makes drawings in various graphic media, and creates artist’s books. Preferring to collaborate rather than to function solo, she has exhibited in duos and other group exhibitions.

Between 2008 and 2012 she was a contract lecturer in the Visual Arts Department at Unisa, where she developed close friendships with Colleen Alborough, Emma Willemse, and Gwen Miller.

In 2013, Mandy founded outoftheCUBE, one of the first online art platforms in South Africa. This was intended to highlight early- and mid-career contemporary South African artists, featuring their work in curated online exhibitions, and was generated by her keen interest in the triggers behind creative thinking and making processes. It ran until 2017, and she intends to reboot it this year. Via outoftheCUBE, she participated as a gallerist in four Turbine Art Fairs in Johannesburg and the 2016 KKNK; and as the international guest curator at the 2015 Grenchen Print Triennale.

Between 2017 and 2019, she assisted Sharon Sampson in organising two Fine Art Print Fairs in Johannesburg; and from 2019 until 2021, was on the admin team of The Printing Girls, co-curating and co-organising several exhibitions and three print exchanges.

Her other work consists of private art teaching and coaching, and she runs an e-service providing online copywriting and editing.

Mandy holds an MFA from Stellenbosch University (2003).

For many years my creative work has dealt with different aspects of human relationships, extending from our intimate connections through to our bond with the planet. I work small-scale, usually in narrative series; and predominantly use printmaking techniques which forcibly impress images, causing the pigments to integrate with the paper, embodying the imprints that many life experiences stamp upon our inner beings. For MESH, I have chosen to exhibit works which deal with creative concepts revealed by the natural world.

The pen, brush, and ink drawings form part of an ongoing project started in 2012, called Earth Connections. From 2019, I began another series of work, Extending the olive branch, which uses the imagery of the olive branch to represent my ongoing hope for respectful compromise, and comment on the divisive nature of contemporary life, so relevant today with the impending European clash with Russia. In 2020, my print work shifted to link the olive leaf metaphor with the concept of eco-longing - the sense of disconnection from family, friends, and nature experienced by many during the Covid lockdowns.

My environmental concerns have grown further since having granddaughters, and the Gaia Adapts triptych reveals my anxieties around the compromised, potentially unforgiving ecology they will inherit. This has been influenced by the writings of Diarmuid O’Murchu (Quantum Theology, 2004), where he maintains that:

Mother Earth has an amazing resilience, a very profound intelligence, and can be quite ruthless in maintaining her own integrity. … Gaia is not purposefully antihuman, but so long as we continue to change the global environment against her preferences, we encourage our replacement with a more environmentally benevolent species.

Nationality: South African
Residence: Surrey, UK