Elza Botha

Elza Botha, artist, south african art, south african printmakers

Elza Botha holds a doctorate in art history from the University of Johannesburg, South Africa and works as a printmaker and researcher into the visual arts. Elza Botha's work as a printmaker has been overshadowed by excelling as an art historian and researcher in the field of 20th century African Art in South Africa. Publications by Miles (her married name) since 1994 include Lifeline out of Africa, Ernest Mancoba: a resource book, Current of Africa: the art of Selby Mvusi and The World of Jean Weltz, and Land and Lives; Nomfanekiso who paints at night - The Art of Gladys Mgudlandlu and Polly Street - The Story of an Art Centre. Her book on Ernest Mancoba won the Old Mutual Literary Award in 1996 and the Recht Malan Prize.

Elza Botha's compassion and deep respect for humanity is the common thread that links all her artistic endeavours.

Elza Botha Artists' Statement

The forthright wisdom of idioms intrigue me. I just cannot help conjuring up configurations of social commentary when I recall or hear some of these sayings that I have been familiar with since childhood.

'Meng jou met die semels...' (he who sleeps with dogs gets up with fleas) is based on a mixed media drawing that refers to betrayal. The drawing epitomises the anger of the betrayed one after a shared companionship of 30 years. The consecutive monotype and lithograph are reconciliatory to such extent that the monotype even refers to a verse for children. The vulva of the original drawing changes into an indigenous lily. This becomes a metaphor for the artist's admiration of Georgia O'Keefe's imagery.

'Kgomo ya lefisa regama re lebelela tsela' is simply a gift. In the light of my exploration of Afrikaans idioms, Mark Attwood suggested an African idiom. I asked Leshoka Legate, Mark's assistant, for five idioms, which would enable me to visualise at least one (I know my boundaries). The one I related to immediately was 'kgomo ya lefisa regama re lebelela tsela' as it epitomised so much of my involvement in art historical documentation".

A loose translation of this Sepedi saying is "something which is not yours can be taken back by the owner at anytime".

'die een se dood..' ... is die ander se brood' : (One man's gain is the other man's loss) I have always been attracted to waiters. Observing them, I saw them 'loose' their own heads (individuality) while they served rude and obnoxious clients with deliciously prepared meat dishes.

'trou is nie perde koop nie' (Marriage is no trivial matter) This saying just presented itself spontaneously when I decided to separate from my husband. My rural Afrikaans background kept on presenting me with images of Voortrekker women wearing bonnets ('kappies') and harnessed to some invisible carriage (marriage?). The horse freed itself while they are still in bondage.

Elza Botha 2003

Artists A - L (by surname)

Artists M - X (by surname)


elza botha, african artist, african printmakers

Title: Meng jou met die semels... (He who sleeps with dogs gets up with fleas)
Medium: Two colour lithograph
Size: 76 x 56cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 400 (excl.VAT)

elza botha,south african printmaker, african art, original prints

Title: Kgomo ya lefisa regama re lebelela tsela (When milking a stolen cow beware of who passes by)
Medium: Two colour lithograph
Size: 57 x 76.5cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 400 (excl.VAT)

south african art, south african prints, original prints

Title: Die een se dood, is die ander se brood (One death is another's bread)
Medium: Two colour lithograph
Size: 76.5 x 56cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 400 (excl.VAT)

elza botha, south african artist, african printmakers, african art

Title: Trou is nie perdekoop nie (Marraige is not horsetrading)
Medium: Two colour lithograph
Size: 56 x 76cm
Edition size: 25
Price: R 3 400 (excl.VAT)

Handprinting techniques used in Elza Botha's images