Schreuders creates carved and painted wooden figures that reflect the
ambiguities of the search for an 'African' identity in the post-apartheid 21st
century. The domain of woodcarving is a contested one for a young, white,
Afrikaans woman, but the subtractive process of carving offers a certain lack
of control that she enjoys.Claudette Schreuders sculptures demonstrate a hybrid
canon influenced by the blolo and colon figures of West Africa, as well as
other stylistic input from medieval church sculpture, Spanish portraiture and
Egyptian woodcarving. Their stocky bodies, solid stance and staring eyes 'own'
space in a very particular way, partly indebted to the shape of the block of
wood from which they emerge. Narrative and story telling are fundamental to the
reading of her figures, which is why Claudette Schreuders opts to show small
bodies of work as sculptural installations, after which the figures are
available to be bought individually.
Schreuders' sculptures are essentially modern deities for modern problems,
taking with them the blolo figures' potential to 'cure', as well as engaging
with issues around foreignness and hostility and the means we use to create a
space for ourselves in a perceived 'alien' environment.
Schreuders' work often follows the theme of making public that which is private
or simply telling stories that have their origins in personal experience. It is
this simple honest approach to herself, her world and her work which makes
Schreuders' work so moving and appealing. Schreuders is able to make something
universal out of the seemingly trivial and personal. Her honesty and sense of
humour are evident in the work.
Claudette Schreuders describes herself as something of a perfectionist, working
slowly and indulging in her labour-intensive process, which she sees is quite
revelatory in terms of understanding one's intentions and desires. "I
start off by making thumbnail sketches, very loose simple drawings of what I
want to make. And I usually draw my sculptures in groups. Or on small pieces of
paper, or in my books. The drawings I do for my sculptures are very informal.
And the prints I do are much more finished products. My first series of
etchings was a record of some of my favourite existing sculpture. And after
that I decided what I would like to do is to keep a record of my own work
seeing as it's something that leaves me.