Wilma
Cruise

Wilma Cruise has a number of academic qualifications; is a sculptor, a sometime poet, and a writer of articles on art and ceramics. She has had eleven solo exhibitions, published a book on ceramics and is the creator of the monument to the women of South Africa.

Wilma Cruise was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1945, three years before the Nationalist Apartheid government was elected to power. For the following forty-five years she lived under a regime that was predicated on the public identity of people. It is not surprising then that the question of identity beyond the publicly conferred image should be of concern to her. Her art functions in the psychic space between inner and outer worlds. She uses the body, the site of experience, as the vehicle for the exploration of meaning. The body provides the metaphorical link between unconscious realities and the conscious known world. Brenda Schmahmann has said, "Her works explore the relationship between subjectivity and speech. They investigate the ways in which we express desire, trauma, loss and need, not only through verbal and written discourses but also through the body. The body is performative. It constitutes itself into a speech act - a statement of conscious and unconscious wants." (Opening of HYS. SUSP. 2001) Cruise is chiefly known for life-size figures made from fired clay. But in 1998 she was commissioned by MTN to create two larger then life-size figures in bronze. In addition, in 2000, she and the architect Marcus Holmes, collaborated in the creation of the multi-media monument to the women of South Africa. This memorial entitled, Strike the women - strike the rock: wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo commemorates the 1956 march to the Union Buildings by the women of South Africa who were protesting the proposed legislation of pass laws for women. Notably this monument makes use of text and recorded sound; there is no figurative element other than an implied one. Rayda Becker has described the memorial as a "monument recast in contemporary terms by artists working with postmodern means and concepts" (Becker 2001: 9) and Kathryn Smith has said, "It is not about a simulation of experience, but an experience made up of 'real' objects that is more evocative that didactic" (Artthrob August 2000). Cruise has always used written notes to develop ideas for her sculptures. In recent years these notes have developed from noted observations into "almost poems". The use of text was a feature of the artist's work during her residency at the 1998 Standard Bank National Arts Festival as well as becoming prominent in Strike the women - strike the rock. In her recent exhibition, HYS SUSP. at the Millennium gallery in Pretoria the use to text and sound was fore grounded notably in an installation entitled Conversations… (2000).

Cruise has had eleven one-person shows. She has won awards including Architect's Project Award in 2000 for the Women's Monument at the Union Buildings, Pretoria and the quarterly Vita Award in 1993 for a cycle of works entitled Nicholas - October 1990.

Her work is represented in the following public collections: The South African National Gallery, Cape Town, the Corobrik Collection of the Pretoria Art Museum, The Durban Art Museum, the University of South Africa in Pretoria, MTN, the Billiton collection in Johannesburg and the Constitutional Court.

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