Ernestine White. Outlet. 2010. Photocopy with lithographic ink on five sheets. Publisher: unpublished. Printer: the artist at Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town. Edition: 2 unique variants (in 2005 and 2010). General Print Fund, 2010. © 2011 Ernestine White

Within my practical body of work I attempt to present the viewer with a glimpse into my personal memories and experiences living in South Africa at various stages of my life.

Through photographic references, as well as signs, symbols, and fragments from my distant and immediate past, I use color, text, and image in an attempt to evoke and illustrate specific moods and experiences. My prints are usually executed in an intuitive manner, but at the same time I also use a number of source materials that are collected and manipulated via computer at various stages of conceptualization.

Outlet, the image I created for the exhibition Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now, is an impassioned outcry, a scream to release from my physical being the negativity I constantly experience as a Black female living in “post-apartheid” South Africa. This scream also represents the frustration, anger and fear faced by so many female South Africans navigating within an environment that is increasingly hostile towards our gender.

I continue to create art that addresses this inequality and injustice and am currently working on a number of works that deal with the manipulation and abuse of girl children in South African society. Below are some untitled sketches/collages that are a mix of found images (photocopies, magazine images, and hand coloring with gouache)—created during an amazing 2011 workshop by Kai Lossgott called In Focus: Concept Development for Visual Artists—that speak to these issues.

Scroll down to view a selection of Ernestine White’s work.


Very well done. Point of thought and emotion well executed via medium. Sad, disturbing. But true. I do hope though that the emotion of hope will soon come into your imagery also. May you one day find peace through your Art.

Artists tend to reflect their time and I am sorry to see this contemporary SA work in it’s negative light.SA is not alone with this gender problem nor is it alone in robbing children of their childhood.

I really like this collages. I lived in East Africa 6 years ago and I still remember the woman, always working hard and still hoped for a better life.

Hi Jennifer you are right in that the work is a reflection of the time and specifically a particular place (South Africa) where violence in its myriad of forms has become a norm. I am sure that you are aware that like artists before me, art has also been used as a way to get society to confront issues that are otherwise hidden, ignored or forgotten.

In making this kind of work I am hoping that dialogue is generated in an effort to create some sort of change in my small way.

Its not meant to make you feel comfortable because the subject and the experience of millions of girls and women in South Africa and across the world is not.

These pieces are loaded with emotion and the viewer must contemplate what the underlying meanings are. The subject matter is something that a lot of artists try to avoid, but it is necessary that somebody is brave enough to address it.
Conrad Bo
The Superstroke Art Movement

I was Enestine’s art teacher. Not only is she talented, but she is an amazingly intelligent and wonderful spirit!!

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