Based in Cape Town, artist and collector Shirley Fintz has a knack for creating intriguing sculptures that combine her love of color, jewelry, vintage treasures, kitsch and African imagery. The juxtapositions are whimsical and compelling…
What inspires you?
Africa, travel, fabrics , vintage THINGS (toys, crockery, clothes) African trade beads, kitsch things, people and everything around me!
How would you describe your work?
Cheerful, colourful, sculptural — inspired by all things African and primitive design.
Your pieces are so detailed. Tell us a little bit about your process.
I love to play with balance and make things that are structurally very difficult to make. I get a kick out of pushing limits and building precariously — like building one animal on top of another. The sculptures usually take about a month to build because they have one thing on top of another, i need to make sure the bottom animal is hard (or dry) enough to handle the weight of the next animal. It excites me to push boundaries (and ensures very few people can copy!) the patterns I choose are generally very time consuming. I seem to have more respect for the pieces that take longer — a labour
of love. Often, I get inspired by a colour combination — sometimes this happens in a meditation and sometimes while I’m beading. I am an avid collector of beads and make jewelry all the time.
Where do you like to work?
I like to work at my studio but mostly find I need to paint at home to keep up. It’s very difficult to paint while teaching as more focus is required for the intense patterns. I’m usually painting at home until early hours of the morning.
Who are your favorite artists/designers
Locally, I love Hilton Nels work mainly as it is unique and loose and fresh. I love Grayson Perry‘s work for the same reasons. My favourite painter at the moment is Mark Ryden mainly because the detail is unparalleled and I love how his work is a mix of cute and macabre.
What’s your approach to decorating?
I love to mix detail with a block of colour. I love colour and clashing. I’m enjoying mixing modern with old-school styles.
Tell us about your collection for west elm — what inspired the particular pieces? How were the prototypes created?
As the brief was functional and I don’t usually do functional — I tried to find a way to make them both. The stacked elephants in willow pattern is quite typical of what I do and turning them into a lamp base seemed like a good way to marry form and function.
SHOP SHIRLEY FINTZ + WEST ELM