Bronwen (Jinny) Heath (1944-)

Artwork by Bronwen (Jinny) Heath

Jinny Heath is one of South Africa’s most understated yet acclaimed artists, whose work, frequently exhibited, yet is seldom seem outside Kwazulu Natal. This combined with the Heath’s wish to be non commercial makes the few paintings that reach the market enticing, fresh and original.
Jinny Heath has drawn up the influence of both of her acclaimed parents, Jane Tully and Jack Heath but she retains a very singular style. Still a modernist, Jinny Heath’s works are unique to the South African artistic landscape. Her paintings are perfectly crafted with exquisite modelling, texture and use of light. They invite the viewer to explore and be enveloped.

“I consider that Jinny Heath paints still-life in a way that concretizes the object, makes it a poetic entity, a part of our cultural reference, and that relates it to the cosmology as humanly understood. Her very careful and thoughtful approach places objects in the humanly known rhythms of light and dark, day and night, and the humanly sensed conditions of time and space.

She communicates the psychically established correspondence between human and object and uses formal properties that are structurally similar to aspects of reality thus giving her work a sense of belonging and identification in the human locale. She tries to convey the ‘thingness of things’, and in her identification of objects in a humanly known cosmology she establishes her own identity there.

Although ostensibly a Modernist, Jinny Heath is unavoidably a person of her own time. While she largely identifies with her background she seeks a local identity, making use of an iconography of domestic quietude, interior and still life. Fully aware of contemporary social and political realities, she elects to confine her pictorial vocabulary to a series of repeated images, arrangements and formats that reflect Classicality and create a personal canon. But within the self-imposed apparent limitation a variety of meanings is retained and conveyed.

The work contains a self-imposed enigma that requires the viewer to discern the communication hidden in quietness. The significance of the work lies in the unvoiced communication in the Classical formats. Her contemplative Modernism is connected with things in the home, its beauties are derived from the home, but enigmatically it does not abrogate the horrors outside.” Taken from Valerie Leigh “Contemplative Modernism in KZN

Selected Exhibitions

• 1978 – Drawing Exhibition, Natal Society of Arts, Durban • 1980 – Three Person Show, Gallery International, Cape Town • 1982 – Cape Town Triennial, National Gallery, Cape Town • 1985 – South African Woman Artists, National Gallery, Cape Town • 1987 – University of Natal Staff Show, University of Witwatersrand, University of Stellenbosch, Natal Society of Arts, Durban Natal Arts Trust Biennale, Durban Art Gallery and touring • 1988 – Miniature Print Show, Gallery International, Cape Town University of Natal Staff Show, Beuster Skolimowski Gallery, Pretoria • 1990 – Caversham Press Art of the Print, Grahamstown Festival, and touring • 1991 – Grand Prix International d’Arts Plastique, Nice, France • 1992 – The Natal Route, Johannesburg • 1993 – Male Formy Grafiki, State Gallery of Art, Lodz, Poland 10 Internationale Jubilaums Grafik Triennale, Frechen, Germany Petit Format de Papier, Couvin, Belgium Watercolours from the N.P.A Collection, Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg • 1994 – Triennale Mondiale d’Estampes Petit Format, Chamalieres, France • 1996 – Jabulisa! The Art of KwaZulu Natal, Grahamstown, Pietermaritzburg, Durban and travelling • 1997 – Printmaking in a Transforming South Africa, Grahamstown and Johannesburg • Karen McKerron Gallery, Johannesburg • 2000 – Natal Arts Trust Biennale, Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg • 2001 – Jabulisa! The Art of KwaZulu Natal, Tatham Art Gallery, and travelling • 2006 – Jabulisa 2006, Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg Challenging Jabulisa, Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg • 2007 – ArtWorks Annual Show, Hilton Midlands Arts and Crafts Society, Pietermaritzburg • 2008 – Fibreworks, ArtSpace, Durban • 2009 – ArtWorks Annual Show, Hilton • 2009 – Combined Heath Retrospective. The Tatham Pietermaritzburg • 2010 – The Heaths, Ebony, Franschhoek