Gwen van Embden
Updated 2012

1980 BA (Philosophy) UNISA

1987 BAFA Michaelis UCT (Distinction)

2000 MFA Michaelis UCT (Distinction)

2000/1 Curated graduate show and auction Michaelis Art School, UCT

2000 Blue Mary: Handwork for Keeping the Home Book published

2001 Walking The Book South African National Library. Exhibition on Literacy for Minister of Education Kader Asmal’s project ‘Masefunde isonke’ (Lets all read together)

2001 Solo exhibitions in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban: Blue Mary: Handwork for Keeping the Home

2002 Parliamentary Millennium Project Mapping exhibition commissioned by Dr Frene Ginwala – then Speak of the house

2002 The Story is on the Wind Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project Collaboration with Pippa Skotnes: Clocks made for the project using the rock art of the area at the university’s archaeology research station in Clanwilliam

2002 A Shade of Grey – The Grey Collection as National Heritage at the National Library of South Africa

2004 Curiosity CLXXVexhibition in collaboration with Pippa Skotnes and Fritha Langerman for the commemoration of UCT’s 175 anniversary

2005-09 Time Machine and Time Garden Working with Professor John Parkington at UCT’s archaeology research station in Clanwilliam

2009 Bits, Bites and Tweets Exhibition to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Summer School at UCT

2012 Domestic Departures Kalkbay Modern, Cape Town (Goedegedacht group show)

2013 Thinking Aloud Kalkbay Modern, Cape Town (group show)

2014 My Mother’s Garden Arts on Main, Johannesburg (Goedegedacht group show)

2015 Art on Paper Kalkbay Modern, Cape Town (group show)

2015 Hours of the Day Irma Stern Museum (solo show)

2015 Everyday AVA (Goedegedacht group show)

2017 Mountain & Water Irma Stern Museum (solo show)

2017 Mixed Metaphors Kalk Bay Modern & The Forge (group show)


Gwen van Embden graduated from UNISA with a BA (Phil)(1990) and from Michaelis Art School UCT with a Masters in Fine Art (Distinction) (1999). Gwen’s master’s work entitled: ‘Hand Work for Keeping the Home’, dealt with identity and memory and how meaning is constructed in the domestic space using a family archive of objects and ephemera. This work has also been exhibited in solo exhibitions in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Durban.

Recent work done by Gwen are ‘curated’ exhibitions using a similar methodology as her masters work whereby she used collections from institutions, reconfiguring them to achieve different outcomes and meanings from traditional curatorial outcomes. Some of these exhibitions have been: ‘Walking the Book’ National Library of SA (1999), ‘Parliamentary Millennium Project’ for Parliament (2000), ‘A Story is on the Wind’ for UCT Clanwilliam Living Landscape Project (2002), ‘Curiosity’ for Michaelis UCT 175th Anniversary Exhibition (2004), ‘Time Machine’ for UCT Archaeology Department (2007-2009), ‘Bits, Bites and Tweets” for UCT Summer School (2010).

More recently the artist has joined Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky’s group and has participated in their workshops locally and in Italy, as well as in their group exhibitions. These workshops have been formative in forming the content of her work. In particular within notions of the spiritual and the quotidian in the practice of art.

All Content Copyright © Gwen van Embden