Elizabeth Kruger is an incredibly accomplished woman. She obtained a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Witwatersrand, focusing on environmentalism and permaculture and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the African Climate and Development Initiative. All of this is no small achievement, but her artwork and commitment to environmentalism are her crowning glory.
Elizabeth’s work has an ethereal quality to it, brought to life by her creative use of lighting. Her IPAF 2021 installation, especially when viewed at night, transported viewers to a transfixing land-based oceanic world. Nestled in the Salt River community garden on Pope Street, Elizabeth’s “flutter” of jellyfish appeared right at home. The colouring that she achieves through the incorporation of lighting into the plastic beings is phenomenal. Blues and purples abound in soft but arresting hues. It is as if you are an invisible spectator in the eerie depths, watching the sea creatures play in a coral reef.
A closer look reveals that these remarkable works of art are made almost entirely of plastic. Elizabeth is a fervent and mighty ecological warrior, and she enjoys mixing organic and inorganic materials into her work. Posited as an earth-friendly rubbish alchemist, she has developed a network through which she collects used plastic bottles, pool cover offcuts and other cast-out offerings. Not only does this provide a unique and striking medium, but it also prevents this waste from ending up in dumpsites and the ocean.
Another of Elizabeth’s passions is bamboo. She developed her love of this wondrous grass and its use in Costa Rica and continues to discover its marvels two decades later. Elizabeth harvests bamboo locally and uses it as a natural and sustainable foundation for her work. She even cured some of the poles used to construct her dragon for the 2019 Bazique festival herself and refers to herself as a bamboophile.
Elizabeth champions the environment at every opportunity. All the plastic she collects is either given new life as one of her beloved creations or stored for use in eco-bricks. Many of her constructions are of natural things, with a strong thread of oceanic and oriental themes. Elizabeth strives to draw attention to society’s use of fossil fuels and petroleum products through her work. Her art collective is entitled Lotus Garden Art. The lotus symbolises self-regeneration and rebirth in many eastern religions. The family of seahorses, jellyfish and other imaginative offspring that Elizabeth has borne represent transformation, not only the transformation of waste into beauty but the transformation of space. Elizabeth brings her plastic clan into a space, transforming it from something ordinary into an inspirational area of splendour, joy and healing. This is Elizabeth Kruger’s creative directive.
If you would like to see more of Elizabeth and her clan’s journeys, follow her on Instagram @lotusgardenart