An Artist’s Journey

Celeste Vorster with her painting of magnolias. Photos:

Some of Celeste Vorster’s paintings are so powerful that they compel one to look at them. They glow, for one thing. And they are beautiful in the quiet way that a Vermeer painting is.

The Milnerton-based artist laughs at the flood of compliments that her painting of magnolias is getting. The painting dominates the corner of the Beach House Gallery @ MJ’s in Rio Road in Melkbosstrand where it is displayed. “Shall I concentrate on painting little flower studies now?” she asks, sending herself up.

Bold but tender
The painting of the magnolias is anything but a “little” flower study. It is monumental and romantic and moody, all at once. It also took a good part of three weeks to complete because at no point was it going to be just a rush job, as that is not the way Celeste goes about making art.

She lowers her voice, and confides that this is the first time that she is exhibiting and that it is not about making money for her. The feedback that she gets is what matters.

All of Celeste’s paintings have stories. And no wonder. She trained as an actress and prior to that as a ballerina, and so her life has always been experienced intensely. The magnolias were painted as a gift for a bride to be. “But it touched my soul,” she confides, and so she decided not to give the painting away (thankfully!) and so it’s ended up in this beautiful new gallery.

More than flowers
Flowers are meaningful for Celeste. She grew up in Delmas in Mpumalanga. She remembers that her artistic mom always had flowers in the house and beautiful floral china, and she often wore a corsage.

The still life of a pear, stones and berries has a story, too. It was painted from a photo taken inside a house on Lake Malawi. The owner of the house, a Swiss missionary, arranged the still life, and built her house herself. The fruits on the plate are the sort of things she eats. Celeste met the woman in Cape Town, but that’s another story.

Nine of Celeste’s paintings are on show at the Beach House Gallery @ MJ’s. The subject matter ranges from flowers to people to animals. Celeste has treated the latter with respect and love. And so the painting depicting a single goat emerging from a dark background moves one. Ditto the painting of the fish.

A blessing
“Discovering art has been a blessing,” Celeste remarks, walking around the gallery, and telling the stories of the paintings. The painting of two boys, one black and one white, walking together, has a meaning. The boys walk beneath a rainbow, but it’s a feeble rainbow, and it symbolises the faltering hope of the Rainbow Nation.

The journey
More of her paintings are displayed on the mezzanine level of the gallery. There are two paintings of goats, and a painting of the famous Afghan Girl, and a mother gazing tenderly at her baby.

Celeste embarked on a creative journey five years ago in the midst of personal sorrow. A much loved friend had just died, and a void was left. Painting filled this void. And though Celeste regrets not having discovered painting earlier, and feels as if she has to make up for lost time, she’s not unduly fazed. After all, painting, and creating, energise her.

She always knew that she’d paint flowers and trees; and that she’s kind at heart. But she’s about more than that. Gallery owner and fellow artist Marina Jacobs is quick to point out, “She paints very intensely.”

Celeste Vorster’s paintings are on show at the Beach House Gallery@ MJ’s, no 5 Rio Road, Melkbosstrand.



Do you want to get the latest news from Enter your email address and click subscribe.