Updated: Dec 15, 2022
Marita van Rooyen grew up between a farm and small town in the east of Namibia, an environment that proofed to be the ideal setting to awaken a curiosity for artistic expression in combination with elements of nature. The artist’s journey of exploration goes back to the age of twelve, a year in which she received two items that would spark a flame: A diary from a teacher, and small analogue camera from an aunt – and the pen and camera has been her creative tools of choice ever since.
While van Rooyen is known mainly for her works in writing, she maintained an interest in using the camera as instrument for visual storytelling and documentation, specialising in Photojournalism for her Honours degree in Journalism and Media Studies (Rhodes University, RSA) and later obtaining a Masters in Documentary Photography from the University of South Wales (UK). Over the years, the artist’s photographic work has transitioned from analogue to digital, settling on alternative printing techniques, with a preference for the historic method known as the cyanotype, or blueprint.
These photographic prints, with their distinctive hues of cyan and shades of blue, present elements of the natural environment in a soft, dreamy two-dimensional format that asks of the viewer what the artist calls, “an ancient means of connection and reconnection of roots – learning to appreciate the simpler things in life again, like seeing the natural world around us with new eyes”. She goes on to say, “By returning to the origins of the visual storytelling medium, these prints provide an almost primitive alternative to the technology-dominated document that ever so often represents our daily lives.” The process of creating cyanotypes involves various steps of experimentation that often results in the final artwork taking on a life of its own: first, a formula for mixing two light-sensitive chemicals; next, a physical interaction with the subject matter or specimen; and finally, a fine balance between strength of the natural light and time of exposure.
The artist’s work primarily represent themes that highlight the natural environment, with a strong focus on ethnomedicine and creative uses for local indigenous plants.
Works are available at The Project Room and on Marita van Rooyen's website.