HEATHER GOURLAY-CONYNGHAM

BIOGRAPHY

Woman in time of Covid (003)

BIOGRAPHY

Heather Gourlay-Conyngham was born in Durban in 1956 and spent her early years in Westville, outside the city. Having acquired a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts degree from the University of Natal and a Higher Education Diploma from the University of South Africa, she combined her career as an art teacher at various schools in KwaZulu-Natal with that of an artist, but in 2012 began painting full-time at her home in Hilton, near Pietermaritzburg. Since then she has had four solo exhibitions, and in 2013 won the first Sanlam Portrait Award.

The unifying thread throughout her work is humanity, seen either in realistic depictions of people or expressed in works that reflect the consequence of human actions. Known particularly for her portraits, Gourlay-Conyngham’s paintings have almost always depicted people, often with the figure and its context stripped to their bare essentials. More recently, her compositions have included objects and complex natural backgrounds that assume an allegorical role and profoundly affect the manner in which the figure is perceived.

Included in Gourlay-Conyngham’s 2017 exhibition at the Everard Read Gallery was an installation that comprised components of mediums other than painting and demonstrated that, whether painted, drawn, cut or assembled, all her works display fine, almost obsessive detail and intricacy. More recently the theme of global warming that underpinned this installation has been extended to include paintings and monumental drawings of the ocean, which relate to the fragility of marine habitats. Figures, plants, animals, marine life, landscapes and seascapes as well as inanimate objects, are acutely observed and painstakingly rendered, and the artworks instilled with tension and an innate energy.

Heather Gourlay-Conyngham’s enduring fascination with the human condition underpins her work. Her empathy for her subjects, whether family or friends, people whom she has come to know while working on a commission, or land- and seacapes, animals and plants, together with the respect with which she accords her subjects, is palpable. But, as seen in the her 2017 installation and recent ocean works, which serve to highlight the destructive nature of mankind, it becomes evident that while seeking beauty in her works, her view of humanity is not uncritical.

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

 

2020

WOMEN WHO READ ARE DANGEROUS

A group exhibition of work by invited artists curated by Hamlin Jansen van Vuuren at the Rust-En-Vrede Gallery, Cape Town

 

TINY 2020

An exhibition of works limited to 20 x 20 x 20 cm by a group of invited artists, curated by Megan Scott at the Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

 

PORTRAIT SHOW

A group exhibition of invited artists curated by Musa Nxumalo at the Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

 

2019

101 COLLECTING CONVERSATIONS: SIGNATURE WORKS OF A CENTURY

A curated exhibition of 101 significant artworks marking the opening of Javett-UP,  Javett Art Centre, Pretoria

 

NUDES IN THE SANLAM ART COLLECTION

A selection of artworks from the Sanlam collection at the Norval Foundation, Cape Town

 

PALATE PLATE PALETTE

A group exhibition of invited artists at the Rust-En-Vrede Gallery, Cape Town

 

2018

FIVE DEGREES OF SEPARATION

A group exhibiton of five artists at the Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg

 

TURBINE ART FAIR

Included in TALKS PROGRAMME: “THINK Scenes of Success”, presented by Prof Terence King and Dr Louise Hall

 

2017

FIVE DEGREES OF REALISM

A group exhibition of five artists at the KZNSA Gallery, Durban

 

BEING HUMAN

A solo exhibition at the Everard Read Gallery, Johannesburg

 

FNB JOBURG ART FAIR

Included in the Everard Read exhibit

 

2016

STUDIO

An exhibition celebrating the lives and works of South African artists, at the South African National Gallery, Cape Town

 

MODPORTRAIT

An international exhibition of selected portraits, at the Agrupación Artística Aragonesa, Zaragoza, Spain

 

2015

RECENT PAINTINGS

A solo exhibition at the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery, Cape Town

 

2014

THE YEAR OF THE HORSE

A group exhibition with the horse as a theme, at the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery, Durban

 

2013

SHIMMERING

A group exhibition of South African art, curated by Julia Meintjes, at the Cavalli Gallery, Somerset West

 

2012

SANLAM PORTRAIT AWARD WINNER AND FINALISTS

A travelling exhibition of 40 selected portraits, at galleries in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Bloemfontein and George

 

UNFOLDINGS

A solo exhibition: paintings of people, at the Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg

 

UNFOLDINGS

A solo exhibition: paintings of nude figures, at the KZNSA Gallery, Durban

 

2010, 2000 and 1996

JABULISA

The art and craft of KwaZulu-Natal, displayed at the Carnegie Art Gallery, Newcastle; Durban Art Gallery, Durban; Empangeni Art Gallery, Empangeni; Margate Museum, Margate; Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg; and Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg

 

2009

CONTEMPORARY REFLECTIONS: NEW ART FROM OLD

Interpretations of selected works in the Tatham Art Gallery’s permanent collection by invited artists, at the Tatham Art Gallery

 

2008

SASOL NEW SIGNATURES

Selected works of artists from all regions of South Africa, at the Pretoria Art Museum

 

2007

HANGING TOGETHER

The work of a mother (Jean Beeton), two daughters (Carol Eady and Julia Beeton-Kuhlmann) and their friend (Heather Gourlay-Conyngham, at the The Atrium, New Doornfontein, Johannesburg

 

2004

IMVUBELO

A celebration of Women’s Day and ten years of democracy, at the Durban Art Gallery

 

2004 and 2000

THE MIDLANDS BIENNALE

Selected works by artists from the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, at the Tatham Art Gallery

 

2003

NATIONAL PORTRAIT COMPETITION: KING CETSHWAYO

Finalist in an exhibition of entrants to a national competition for a portrait of Zulu king, Cetshwayo, at the Tatham Art Gallery

 

2000

KWAZULU-NATAL TEACHERS

An exhibition of work by KwaZulu-Natal Art teachers, at the Tatham Art Gallery

 

1999

GRADUATES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NATAL/KWAZULU-NATAL

An exhibition of work by graduates, at the Jack Heath Gallery, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg

 

1998

FIFTEEN GRADUATES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NATAL/KWAZULU-NATAL

An exhibition of 15 graduates of the University of Natal/KwaZulu-Natal, at the Jack Heath Gallery

 

PORTRAITS IN PUBLIC COLLECTIONS

Douglas Ralfe, (Michaelhouse School), 2020

Nicole and Karen, (Javett Art Centre), 2019

Jutta, (Tatham Art Gallery), 2019

Desmond Smith (Sanlam), 2017

Gary Ralfe, (Michaelhouse School), 2016

Mary Williams, (Roedean School), 2016

Simon Weaver, (Cordwalles School), 2015

David Goldblatt, (Sanlam Art Collection), 2015

Homage, (Tatham Art Gallery), 2012

A Young Man (Sanlam Art Collection), 2013

Joy, (Tatham Art Gallery), 2009               

David Wilkinson, (St Anne’s College), 2009         

Pius Langa, (University of KwaZulu-Natal), 2001            

Trevor Benison, (Durban High School), 1999

Dudley Forde, (Michaelhouse School), 1998

Tony Ardington, (Michaelhouse School), 1998

Bill McQuade, (St Anne’s College), 1997

Gerry Wilkinson, (Cowan House School), 1997    

King Goodwill Zwelithini, (Tatham Art Gallery), 1996                    

Dudley Forde, Durban High School), 1995