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Hemp Art Pioneer


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This exhibition sees well known artist, and winner of the 2007 Sasol Wax Art Award Walter Oltmann mentoring artist Willem Snyman who has developed a body of work using a new technique of painting on Hemp.

Hemp is an incredibly versatile material.

As a natural fibre of the hemp plant, the hemp seed is a source of omega-rich proteins and essential fatty acids. Some of the first paper was made from hemp more than 3000 years ago and because of its versatility it was one of mankinds earliest crops.

Hemp fibre has a pleasing natural colour. Wood from the stems of the hemp plant needs no chemical preservatives. It is light and strong with superior insulation properties. Hemp is being explored for high-tech applications in the building industry.

The raw, tough canvas woven from hemp was extensively used by artists in the Middle Ages.

A hemp car running on hemp fuel was developed by Henry Ford at the turn of the previous century. Ever since those days, hemp has been sidelined, but is now making a comeback.

The artist explores the visual effects of both convex and concave shaped hemp canvases. In this exhibition, the artist has used the sphere as artistic form. The spherical shape is found in all of Nature, from planets to water drops and atoms. The artist has developed a technique in which he uses all ten fingers in creating his paintings on these round canvases. This method of painting allows the application of colours in an innovative way.

The artist, Willem Snyman, is a lover of nature and its creatures. He is deeply concerned with ecology and conservation of the planet. He sees a solution and a future in the use of the natural product hemp - now almost forgotten, but extensively used in the Middle Ages. Willem has devised a way of producing his own unique canvas he paints on, as well as other art objects and materials from this plant.

Willem Snyman completed his Fine Art studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. Further studies include etching under Leon de Bliquy in Stellenbosch; landscape painting in the Netherlands (Groningen); Germany (Hannover) and Italy (Volterra). He travelled and painted extensively in Central America and in Greece. He lives on a smallholding in the Renosterspruit Conservancy outside Johannesburg.
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