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In case we’ve never met, my name is Gabriella Kaplan. I grew up in Greece with an English mother and Greek father; bilingual and multi-cultural. Reading Tolkien aloud in the ancient theatre of Dionysus, memorising verses of Homer in Ancient Greek at school and drinking up Aegean blue and rugged landscapes on our frequent road trips, following my father’s engineering projects around Greece, in the family Peugeot 404. At 18 I left for Paris, the City of Light. I received a Masters with Distinction in Fine Art from the Sorbonne. Six years of immersion in art history, museums, art galleries, café debates, jazz concerts and long dissertations in French... I then moved to London for four grey, fallow years and then to Zimbabwe to join my soulmate, partner, husband, exiled South African documentary filmmaker, Mark Kaplan. Two luminous years of encounters with some incredible people in a landscape of red earth, tall grasses and granite outcrops of balancing rocks. Nelson Mandela was released and there was no question: we packed up the years of exile and returned. A new uprooting for me. We settled in Cape Town about 29 years ago and raised two wonderful human beings; Alexia and Michael. In all these years, I have learnt to adapt, to make do and so I have worked as a house painter, an illustrator, translator, researcher, writer and documentary film creative consultant. I have also taught in a number of institutions including UCT and CPUT in Cape Town. For over ten years now, I have been designing and facilitating creativity courses from THE ARTERY, my garden studio in Cape Town.
In every course, in each workshop or session I design, many strands from my experience and influences are woven together into one mindfully curated and meaningful whole around a thought-provoking question or theme. My love of Art History, poetry, philosophy and psychology feed into all my offerings. Art techniques are slipped in without becoming the primary focus as we learn “on the job”, through experimentation and practice. Artists are introduced as friends, inspirators and guides. Drawing, painting, printmaking and clay work are presented in unusal ways, often using humble materials, with playful or counter-intuitive techniques that bypass the critical mind in order to access the creative artery present in us all. Mixed media techniques are encouraged as they allow for a layered, exploratory and liberating way of finding creative expression with ease. Each session has a beginning, a middle and an end. You will be ignited by an introduction, dropped into the zone through a meditation or a guided visualisation and gently guided every step of the way through the artmaking process, culminating in a final, Reflection process using inspiring writing prompts.
Those of you who have attended my groups in the studio know that I hold a non-judgemental, confidential, sacred space. If we have never met before, try to let go of all past stories about art-making, let go of all expectations of what art should be and just be fully present in each moment. In these remotely guided art processes, my voice will hold the same allowing creative space for you wherever you might be: guiding, prompting and coaxing... without imposing, assessing or judging in any way. I would like to encourage each one of you to also approach your art-making with this mindful equanimity. No praise, no criticism. Things are what they are.
If you are doing this art process on your own, remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us tapping into the creative Artery common to all human beings. All you have to do is to show up with openness and curiosity and trust the natural unfolding of the creative process, one action at a time.
So welcome to this creative circle.
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