Former Ballito artist Jacqui Scheffer has been chosen as one of 60 artists from around the world to take part in a remarkable one-of-a-kind project in Italy called ‘Timeless Immortal Art’.
The concept is really quite wonderful. A group of artists are collaborating to create a type of ‘open-air’ museum in a small city in Sicily. There will no longer be plaques on the walls indicating the street names, but rather sixty works of art painted on terracotta tiles by artists from around the world.
Mother of two and former Ballito resident Jacqui is one of these artists. “This has been like an unexpected gift from the universe. What a beautiful concept, immortality of an artist and how, during these tough times, art can reunite. It is an absolute privilege and I am so humbled and honoured to be a part of this project.”
Born in Limpopo, 40-year-old Jacqui has two children and recently relocated to Cape Town. She and her family spent more than 10 years living in Ballito. A self-dubbed ‘dreamer with her head in the clouds most of the time’, Jacqui first discovered her love for art when she found her mother’s oil paint in the garage at the age of 10. “Not really knowing how to use the oil paint, I made more of mess than a piece of art, but I loved every moment of it.
A few years later, my art teacher at school taught me a valuable lesson I have never forgotten. I had been painting a piece for a few days and she walked past me and pushed my arm forward while I was painting! Swish went the brush over the canvas! I was so upset. She just smiled at me and said, ‘stop being so afraid of making a mistake, you can never be wrong in art, let it flow’. It was an absolutely freeing experience for me that changed my perception of art forever.”
After studying photography and graphic design at Stellenbosch Jacqui became involved in the teaching side of things, writing a photography curriculum to be used as an extra curriculum subject at schools. While living in Ballito she opened an art shop, which she had to close down because it was too quiet out of season, and then learnt how to do tattoos and opened a tattoo studio in her home town of Bela Bela. “My shop burned down though and it was a hard place to stand up from. I got a job teaching in Beijing and during this time I met my partner, Gianluca, who encouraged me to start painting again. Soon I had my first exhibition in Cape Town, where I sold only two or three paintings and a few photographs. We started marketing my paintings in Italy and I sold all of them.”
While in Italy Jacqui meet renowned artist Walter Tacchini who subsequently invited her to exhibit some of her work with his in Italy in July this year. It’s not easy to exhibit your work in South Africa, Jacqui says, and she’s had to learn to be adaptable. “I started printing my paintings on fabric, making handbags, pillows and lampshades. My first commission came from Brett, Mozambik restaurant owner in Ballito. He ordered lampshades and pillows for one of his shops from me. I have also learned to market myself and make connections in the art industry online, which is how I ended up being invited to join the Sicily project.”
Jacqui tells us a bit about the painting she has submitted to the project, called ‘Eclipse of the Soul’. “It articulates the moon and sun, representing time, hope and dreams. The moon affects our emotional tides like the sea, but it also creates time to dream, meditate, moralize and philosophize about life. The sun represents hope – every day is a new beginning and a blessing. The woman looking up for answers is trying to understand what this short period of life is all about. We are all too unique and our conscious minds too fast to just struggle, hurt, learn, dream, love, create and then die. We are all connected on this earth. Life is such a crazy thing, filled with the unexpected. There is so much beauty, if you can change your mindset. We tend to focus on pain and negative things. I guess it is human nature.”
We asked Jacqui what advice she would give to other aspiring artists. “You are stronger than you think. Life is moulding you into the best that you can be. It is not easy but it’s worth it. Like Andy Warhol said, ‘Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decided if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art. It’s your soul’s song.’”
Text: Leah Shone