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Jessie Mooy was born in Amsterdam, Holland, moved to Pretoria, South Africa and later to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape province. She studied at the University of Pretoria where she was awarded a BA Fine Art degree and a Higher Education Diploma. She worked as an artist for the South African Bureau of Heraldry for a period of five years. Since then she has taught at various schools and also privately.
For a number of years Jessie concentrated on landscape painting, but since 1991 has been working increasingly and successfully in ceramics. Since 1995 she has worked and exhibited yearly in Belgium, Holland and South Africa. Her earlier work is characterised by the vibrant use of colour and especially her later paintings by the unique portrayal of the Port Elizabeth land- and cityscape. She is excited by the sculptural quality of the landscape filled with plants – the landscape, which dwarfs buildings, ruins and human figures. In Jessie’s vision the temporary edifices built by human hands always seem to crumble into ruins or are represented in such a way that they become insignificant or fragile in the presence of an overpowering nature. Jessie’s paintings often depict the landscape as being violated or wrecked by man, e.g. The Quarry where the mountain becomes a symbol of an open wound, a mutilated body without a heart. Her paintings also reflect an awareness of the tremendous growing force of plants which, shooting up irresistibly from the earth, in some of her works become such monstrous and menacing shapes that they threaten to devour the tiny human dwellings. The sense of alienation from nature that pervades these landscape paintings may be seen as establishing a link with Jessie’s earlier work, especially with her ‘ecological’ paintings.
The image of woman functions as a counterforce to all forms of alienation in her art, by virtue of the fact that woman is depicted as life-giving earth mother or as custodian of all life in nature. In her more recent ceramic work her continued interest in the creative aspect of the earth, plants and all its creatures is evident, not only in the medium, but also in the formal variety and strength of her works. Jessie has for the past years concentrated on raku sculptural work, but still works in stoneware and earthenware as well.
She has participated in numerous group exhibitions since 1980, including the Cape Town Triennial, a landscape exhibition at the Everard Read Gallery, an International Ceramics exhibition in Hong Kong, the International Johannesburg Biennale and the Feminine Aspect of God exhibition in Grahamstown in 1993. Jessie has had 10 solo exhibitions, 2 of which were in Belgium and Holland. She is an invited member of the GAP group. Permanent collections in which her work is represented include the Rhodes University Gallery, the Rhodes Ichthyology Department, the Durban Art Gallery, the Northern Transvaal Regional Art Museum at Pietersburg, King George VI Art Gallery, Port Elizabeth as well as the Cuyler Clinic Collection inn Uitenhage. Jessie has received no less than five awards for her work in ceramics, including the Corobrik Regional Award (Eastern Cape) for best entry in 1991.
Jessie has completed several public commissions including work for Telkom Head Offices, Port Elizabeth and huge applique designs for the Catholic Church, Walmer, Port Elizabeth. She has also exhibited her ceramic work regularly in The Netherlands and Belgium where she has been working for the past 5 years. Her work has been taken up in private collections world-wide: Amsterdam, London, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Marbella, Spain, as well as various cities and towns in Portugal, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands.