Gaborone — Thapong Visual Arts Centre and the art fraternity in its entirety is reeling in shock after the death of one of Botswana's most recognisable artists, Doreen Perekise who passed away this week.
Speaking in an interview, Thapong Visual Arts Centre coordinator, Reginald Bakwena said it was a great loss to the creative arts industry.
"Doreen was a highly motivated individual and she contributed immensely to the visual arts and she will be greatly missed," he said, adding that Thapong would hold a memorial service for her at the centre today.
He said the late Perekisi always made an effort to interact and advise artists on their work.
"She was someone who would go to each artist's studio and help them with pointers on what they were working on and she had a passion for art," he said.
Bakwena further said Perekise had high hopes for Botswana's art, and wanted both the artists and their work to show significant growth every time they worked on their stuff.
"The Thapong board of trustees, members and the artistic community extends their condolences to the family of our late sister, artist and friend," said Bakwena.
During a previous interview she conducted with Veryan Edwards when she was still alive, Perekise said she was born in Molepolole in 1974 and her mother made crafts; traditional aprons made with gold and yellow braids that she loved so much.
"There was one that I loved so much that I wore it right from my standard 1 in primary school until Std6," she said, adding that growing up she enjoyed cultural artifacts such as baskets that held sorghum and clay pots fired in dried cow dung.
As as time went by, she grew into painting and her mother also painted on traditional mud huts (lekgapho) with charcoal and different coloured soils.
"At first, I went to school in Moshupa as I wanted to be near my parents and go home on Fridays to the lands. Later, I transferred to Kgari Sechele Senior Secondary School, where I tried art for the first time and liked it so much that when I finished schooling and Tirelo Sechaba, I bought some poster paints. I also drew with charcoal. I met the Museum Pitso Ya Naga and went on to attend a workshop at Mokolodi (Tlhale4) with Velias Ndaba. It was my first time to work with acrylic paints and with canvas, working on a larger scale," said Doreen about her introduction to art.
She noted that she also got the chance to attend classes on sculpture taught by Adam Madebe and liked his sculpture techniques which were not common to artists in Botswana and she wanted to do something different.
Perekise also said she was grateful to have met Semina Mfofu, a Zimbabwean sculptor, at another workshop and wanted to emulate all the international artists that she met.
She further indicated that she was grateful to have had a relationship with Thapong Visual Arts Centre because through the centre, she had the opportunity to attend the Tulipamwe International Artists' Workshop in Namibia.
"It was an amazing experience as we stayed near Swakopmund where the dunes meet the sea. I made a crocodile out of wood and an aero plane to express my feelings about my first flight," she said.
She said she went on and applied to study art in Zimbabwe and while she was there at a Polytechnic in Harare, she met Chiko who invited her to Batapata International Artists' Workshop and this was at Lake Chivero.
Describing what she likes, she said she liked nature.
"I am a nature expressionist; I work with natural shapes and combine synthetic and organic materials. My work is abstract now; it is challenging, innovative and creative and I use my imagination to build on what I find from others but I still stick to my roots and the influence of my mother who designed many things," she said.
Some of her last proclamations on the importance of art and how government could help in bringing awareness and helping artists transcend to being sustainable are just a snippet of what she stood for in the arts fraternity.
She believed that art makes people aware of their culture and appreciating it.