Sheer water a solo exhibition by Mandy Lake – Cape Gallery until 25 February

First Blush Cape Point Mandy Lake

I have always been drawn to the sea and my paintings aim to capture its endless motion and changing moods: A series of close-up encounters in which the viewer becomes immersed and loses sight of the shore.


This exhibition explores my growing fascination with the translucent qualities of the ocean – and traces my journey to capture this fleeting play of light on water from two perspectives:


Firstly, looking down from above: the ocean remains elusive. It’s surface stirred by wind, tide and current. At times it is clear and transparent allowing the light to dive beneath the surface and illuminate hidden treasures. At others it is moody and translucent as the light slows and thickens casting shadows in the deep.


Secondly, looking out to sea:  at sunrise and sunset the light skims low across the water, reflecting off surfaces with greater density, as waves break against the shore scattering a kaleidoscope of colour.


This exhibition also traces a shift in the way I work with oils. Initially I started with a background wash building up the darks before adding detail and light. Then I began to experiment with transparent oils, building up layer upon layer and reserving the opaques for the whites of the waves. Now I am acutely aware of the light from the moment I start to plot the composition, and in the final few works there is no background wash and I have allowed the white of the canvas to show through.

Ultra Marine Mandy Lake
Cape Point


“Who has known the ocean? Neither you nor I, with our earth-bound senses, know the foam and surge of the tide that beats over the crab hiding under the seaweed of his tide-pool home; or the lilt of the long, slow swells of mid-ocean, where shoals of wandering fish prey and are preyed upon, and the dolphin breaks the waves to breathe the upper atmosphere. Nor can we know the vicissitudes of life on the ocean floor, where sunlight, filtering through a hundred feet of water, makes but a fleeting, bluish twilight, in which dwell sponge and mollusk and starfish and coral, where swarms of diminutive fish twinkle through the dusk like a silver rain of meteors, and eels lie in wait among the rocks. Even less is it given to man to descend those six incomprehensible miles into the recesses of the abyss, where reign utter silence and unvarying cold and eternal night.

To sense this world of waters known to the creatures of the sea we must shed our human perceptions of length and breadth and time and place, and enter vicariously into a universe of all-pervading water.”

Rachel Carson


About the Artist – Mandy Lake


Mandy Lake was born in Surrey, UK in 1968 and grew up in Johannesburg. Her love for painting developed under the tutelage of André Naudé and Simon Stone. Mandy earned a degree in history and art history at the University of Cape Town, and studied sculpture and illustration at the Foundation School of Art in Cape Town.


Mandy has had a professional career in design, illustration and publishing, yet continued to explore sculptural ceramics and painting. In 2009, she joined Julia Teale’s Spencer Street Studios in Salt River.


With Julia’s inspiration and encouragement Mandy’s love for the ocean became a passion to paint it, to explore and seek to capture the wondrousness of its ever-changing moods, the ceaseless movement, the power, the light, the tranquility.


On our southern African coast we are surrounded by and intimately connected to the sea. Mandy’s journey has been cross-dimensional. One is the impressionism, the moods and palettes of the oceanwhere a single moment can turn from powerful, dark and threatening to sparkling and lucent in aninstant, with an infinity of shades in between. Here Mandy is influenced by Claude Monet, his view ofthe natural world and the ever changing effects of light, his capturing of its momentary and transient effects.


The other is perspective. Mandy’s works are not seascapes. They are paintings of the sea itself. Here, Mandy draws inspiration from American contemporary artist, Ran Ortner.  Ortner’s large-scale paintings of surging oceans have no horizon, land or sky. Their focus is on the ocean alone, the moodiness, thesubmerged power and ultimately, evoking the visceral attraction that we human beings have for the body of water that birthed us.


In April 2016 Mandy held her first solo exhibition, Immersion at The Cape Gallery.        Early in 2017 Mandy joined Tracey Payne at Victoria Art Studio in Woodstock, where she is working on her upcoming exhibition Sheer water, to be held at the Cape Gallery in 2018.


“I want viewers of my paintings to feel, even just briefly, a thrill, a resonance, a primeval pull that, yes, I want to be there, it feels good. I think we do all have that deep affinity and longing.”


Mandy Lake works primarily in oil on canvass and has shifted her approach to working oils. Initially she started with a background wash building up the darks before adding detail and light. Then she began to experiment with transparent oils, building up layer upon layer and reserving the opaques for the whites of the waves. Now she is acutely aware of the light from the moment she plots her composition, and in her most recent works there is no background wash the white of the canvas is allowed to show through.