During the past 10 years, I’ve made contact with many incredible people via my blog. One such person is Tracy Stokes. Tracy is a mixed media artist living in Cape Town. We became blog buddies because we have something in common–our love of recycling materials for art making. I asked Tracy if she would do a post for me and, luckily, she accepted. Here it is:
“a little birdy told me” by tracy stokes
Bricolage and working with my hands is my way of making sense of a world where not much makes sense to me. In this time of plastic and cheap factory-made products it is a way for me to pull myself back into a peaceful and positive place where creativity and possibilities abound. And to reward myself with beautiful objects, handmade, with values far higher than the sum of their parts.
“wild beast” by tracy stokes
I am reminded of the stories of bone gathering old women who sing the bones back to new life. These stories show us that psychological junk needs to be collected, looked at, sung to and honoured to find a healthier and more positive place in our lives. We can also apply the lessons in the stories to the trash generated by our consumer lifestyles. We collect the trash, look at it, acknowledge it as a useful resource and then channel our innate creativity to transform it into something worthy of a place in our home and our lives. Now it’s no longer trash, it’s art.
toliet paper tube wall decor by tracy stokes
My first forays into bricolage involved toilet rolls, waste paper and plastic bottles (and lots of inspiration from this art for housewives blog). The results so pleased me, and the place that the process of creating took me to was so beautiful, that I wanted to delve into it more and more. I bought & collected second hand clothes and transformed them into new by combining and decorating them (again Cynthia’s work inspired me). Over the period of a few years this making and transforming has led me to a new career. I haven’t just been transforming junk, I’ve been transforming myself too.
“fracked” by tracy stokes
The urge struck me to start telling stories with my art and the way that this has worked for me is to paint and draw. My very first mixed media artworks were painted and drawn onto old bits of wood, shelves and boards. The stories that have emerged in my work are those of our ravaged world, the disconnection between ourselves and nature, and the healing and magic that reconnecting with the wilderness of the world, and the wilderness of our souls, brings. Since I started selling my work online earlier this year, I’ve been working more on paper to make it possible for me to ship my work without too great a cost to my customers. But I much prefer painting onto something old that needs a new lease of life, so this is a contradiction that I will need to work out over time and as I start selling more of my art locally.
“griot” by tracy stokes
I find inspiration for my narrative artworks in my surroundings and community. Cape Town is blessed with a huge mountain right in the middle of the city that is commonly believed to be one of the earth’s great natural energy vortexes. I’m not new-age enough to really get what that means but I know that living here fills me with the urge to keep creating. We have nature on our doorsteps and there’s no denying the creative buzz that attracts artists here.
upcycled dashiki by tracy stokes
So I continue on my artful journey that started with the discovery of bricolage and the satisfaction of seeing waste turned to treasure and as I do I’m learning, growing and connecting to a part of myself that seems much, much older than the 40 odd years of my physical body. Perhaps it’s that old woman with the bones that I’m becoming, or perhaps she is becoming me.
“molo mama” embroidery by tracy stokes
p.s. I didn’t know that Cape Town was one of the vortexes of earth energy so I did a bit of research. Here are some related links: Energy vortexes, tuning into our mother + The Four Elements: The Great Spinner Wheels, or Vortices + 10 vile vorticesaround the world + Earth Chakras And Vortices , The Earth Energy Grid