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About Quin Sculpture Garden and Gallery
A black and white snapshot taken with a Brownie box camera in the early 1940's shows a young girl dressed in a white shirt covered with smudges, sitting in the banks of the Renosterspruit with two dogs lying next to her. She smiles at the camera and in her hands she holds a figure of awoman crudely made out of clay. Today, six decades later, the same girl can still be found creating sculptures using the human figure as her main source of inspiration.
In the intervening years this young girl took art lessons from an early age at school, attended art school in Durban where she studied under Mary Stainbank, went to London on a grant to study at the Goldsmith College of Art, got married and had two daughters. Throughout her life, whether it was in a small prefab on a road building site in O'Kiep, in a hay shed on a farm, or sharing a huge barn with two shoemakers, she continued, undaunted by discomforts, setbacks and an absence of fellow artists or an appreciative audience, striving towards excellence in her chosen profession. Having spent her formative years on a farm, her inherent love and knowledge of animals, coupled with her keen sense of observation of not only animals but the human figure as well, laid a foudation enabling her to produce sculptures which are in all aspects alive and flowing, whether the subject be realistic or modern expressive.
Arriving in the small village of Alexandria in the Eastern Cape in 1975, she had a large studio and office built in a sprawling, unkempt garden. As the years passed by, she developed the garden into a place of beauty in which a multitude of birds cold nest in trees and shrubs, and with many of her sculptures exhibited on plinths, forming a synergy between art and nature. A gallery was added on to her studio to house her unique collection of sculptures, paintings and drawings. Since then this has become her spiritual and inspirational home and it is here that her artistic talent has reached fulfillment in the creation of some of her most magnificent sculptures.
Ten years ago saw the opening of the Quin Sculpture Garden and Gallery to the public and since then this mecca of art has become a major attraction for art lovers from all over the world. The collection of more than 100 sculptures, paintings and drawings on view, represent a lifetime of work extending from Maureen's student days in London, to her latest sculptures. In her garden wildlife studies, portraits and figure studies are beautifully displayed at water features and amongst shrubs and trees. In the well-appointed gallery, her collection of sculptures include the thought provoking Hunt Series displayed in a specially designed gallery, the Ballet Dancers and the Interaction Series. the Collection affords viewers a visual experience of her progression through stages of development, always dynamic in her approach to her subject matter while retaining the essential aesthetic and artistic values of composition and balance between form and space.
Four distinctive influences are clearly indentifiable in her creative work. While studying in London, she was influenced by many British and European sculptors but especially by Henry Moore. Back in South Africa, this influence manifest itself in many of her sculptures using the cubistic dolorite outcrops visible from roads traversing the Eastern part of the Karoo as her central theme. A prime example of this period is a large, life-size sculpture of two reclining figures which she created in the 1970's, as well as smaller sculptures, all depicting human torso's and heads. In 1987 she had the opportunity to travel extensively through Europe, ending in Paris where she took up residence at the South African Arts Associatio's flat at the Cite des Artes for a period of three months. Apart from visiting the many art galleries, she spent most of her time at the Grand Chaumere doing life drawings. Her travels and her sojourn in Paris turned out to have a significant and far reaching effect on her creativity. Having been schooled in Eurocentric art, she now realised that she had lost her affinity and feeling for European art, becoming aware of her inherent African background. as a result her sculptures moved to embadying forms and shapes which reflect her African background. An example is the HUNT SERIES, in which she has made extensive use of an animal motif, the cheetah, to give vent to her emotional reactions to mans effect on our planet. She uses horns on bold, expressive human figures, synonymous with our unique wildlife heritage and with horned cattle which are an integral part of the African culture.
The Ballet Dancers were influenced by her love for the preforming arts especially the elegance of dancers. In this series she manages to capture the sensitivity, grace and flowing movements of the dancers with unnerving accuracy.
Her ability to capture the spirit, soul and vitality of each subject she portrays or creates, thus giving them an aliveness, is but one of Maureen's outstanding qualities as a sculptor. It is this feature coupled with her humility, honesty and integrity, which makes a visit to her gallery and meeting her an educational and enlightening experience. Being taken into her studio and being treated to an interesting talk on the process of creating a sculpture is a unique and profound experience.