Claudette Schreuders is best known in art circles for her painted wood sculptures, many of them charged with biographical significance. To the lay public, however, she is the sculptor of the larger-than-life bronzes of South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, on view at the V&A Waterfront since 2005. The process of rendering the laureates was difficult. Commissions have cautious clients and lawyers. Living politicians are busy and have pernickety handlers; they are also not immune to vanity. In a recent interview Schreuders described the project as “the hardest thing I ever did,” but one from which she learnt a great deal about working in bronze.1 After her Nobel Square commission she produced two diminutive bronze sculptures, this lot and another based on her avocado-wood sculpture Eclipse (2007).
This work was commissioned by Stellenbosch University, assisted by Julia Meintjes Fine Art, as a gift for their donors in 2007. The bronze’s title refers to the proverb, “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. Depictions of young women with birds are legion in art, notably among painters (better examples include works by Renoir, Courbet and Maggie Laubser). Sculptures of the subject often tend to be treacly. Schreuders purposefully avoids emotion in her work. Her ambition is create space for whoever encounters her sculptures to formulate their own feelings.2
Tokara, Stellenbosch, Thinking A-Round: Mapping Sculpture, 15 December 2011 to 29 February 2012.
Julia Meintjes (2011) Thinking A-Round: Mapping Sculpture, Stellenbosch: Tokara. Illustrated on page 27.