top of page


Artist: Jan Ernst de Wet

“Life imitates art, or is it the other way around?”- HT

I recently had the privilege to interview an artist by the name of Hannalie Taute. Her work struck me at a recent exhibition at Cavalli Wine Estate when I became aware of her intricate embroidered portraits stitched into the words of torn out stories.

Ventriloquist Artist: Hannalie Taute

Inspiration comes in different ways and various forms, but most of Taute’s work is inspired by folktales, fairy tales and music. It's needless to say that by referencing fantasy there's an implied playfulness and childlike aspect. This is inherently linked to her own childhood. She often makes use of music to inform the subject matter and titles of her own work. At times it's in quite a literal way as in the case with “Rubber, rubber on the wall, who is the toughest of them all?” and other times it is more of an abstract informant. These ideas or sources of inspiration are used to create embroidered portraits.

Don't make waves Artist: Hannalie Taute

She replaces the 'characters' in her work with people that are close to her and of herself. "I guess it has to do with empathy. The ability to understand or share the same feelings of the other. But not always, as in the case of my Dysfunctional family series: for example, My great, great grandmother or Uranus. They don’t represent people- instead they represent my favourite extra-terrestrial and planet."

She wants to build a house of thread Artist: Hannalie Taute

The artworks [be it figurative or abstract] take life in the form of found objects and marrying two very opposing materials/ applications: threaded embroidery on rubber, which has became Taute's recognizable mode of working. But, there was a time when she used these materials separately. "Nothing made sense until I married rubber and thread. Now everything is starting to make sense. I am very aware of opposites in myself. Contrasting elements of the self. Happy vs melancholy, ambition vs fate, dark vs light. Finally, after many years of experimenting, I finally found materials to work with that embrace opposites as well."

Blood is thicker than water Artist: Hannalie Taute

Art acts as a mouthpiece to communicate the similarities between everyday life and the way we perceive, interpret or experience it. It's not about capturing it accurately, but rather how we bring to life a part of it that someone can resonate or identify with and therefore face a reality about themselves.

I have taken from Taute's work a process that engages with familiarities, the abstract of products from other art forms such as music and literature and tried to make it applicable to my skills and understanding. Because music is such an integral part of how I experience life, I have decided to use that as my main source of inspiration. Many hours were spent listening to different musicians and genres until I eventually found songs that started reminding me of people I know.

Artist: Jan Ernst de Wet Model: Sheree Marinus

While listening to the music, I began analyzing the rhythm, patterns, sounds, but mostly, the stories they told. After making sense of the narrative and character, it was all about finding a way to interpret it. I wanted to keep within the embroidery theme but knew I could never achieve a three-dimensional artwork the same way Taute has and that by imitating her work I'd gain nothing from the experience.

Artist: Jan Ernst de Wet Model: Hanmari Pretorius

Instead of working with rubber and thread, I decided to make use of digital editing techniques and ended up with a product that I like to call digital embroidery. The result of my interpretation is a series of four portraits of people that are familiar to me, similar to Taute I have also included a self-portrait. The images created are photo-collages of 4 elements: a picture of the person, the reference to stitching and being held together, a found object and an embroidered texture. The aim was to use these layers to enhance the impact of narrative I decided to create about the specific person. To embrace the imperfections that more often than not, add to the beauty of art.

Artist: Jan Ernst de Wet Model: Jeanné Scholtz

As an architect, my mind is inclined to search for solutions to enhance and beautify. Sometimes the most “undesigned” are the most admirable. The thought that she left me with was: “To grant myself the knowledge to change the things I can, to accept the things I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference.

Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • YouTube - Black Circle
bottom of page