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Landscape as metaphor : the interpretation of selected paintings by (Amy) Bertha Everard.


This dissertation is a study of selected works of the South African landscape painter Amy Bertha Everard (l 873-1965) with the emphasis on discovering relevant means of interpreting her use of landscape as metaphor. In Chapter One Bertha 's family history and background is traced. This includes developments in her work from the earliest known sketches and paintings, her travels, experiences and artistic training. Chapter Two examines Bertha 's relationships with family and friends, with a section at the end that discusses the candidate 's interpretation of some of the letters that have been made available for this research by the Tatham Art Gallery. This is in order to establish some character traits that may be relevant to the subsequent interpretation of landscape as metaphor in the final chapter. Chapter Three discusses selected paintings with reference to the analysis of their subject matter, composition and technique. Criticism of selected work is made with some reference to Frieda Harmsen 's observations in The Women of Bonnefoi (1980), while some references are made to what appears to be previously undocumented works, discovered during this research. Exhibitions and reception of much of Bertha's work is also covered in this chapter. This is done in order to trace the development of her work within the context of her life experience with regard to her travels and relationships. Chapter Four examines the influences of faith and religion on her life and possibly her art. As a self-appointed Anglican missionary and teacher to labourers on her farms, a great deal of time and energy was spent in this practice. Reference is made to some prevailing religious and social ideologies in southern Africa that may have influenced her activities or that may have been motivating factors in her desire to participate in this field. Chapter Five discusses some of the possible discourses that may have affected Bertha's perception ofart and her decision to pursue this as a career. In the absence of much factual knowledge about the early period of her life in England, it is acknowledged that this interpretation is speculative. A survey of art practices and art institutions in Victorian England is made in an attempt to establish the prevailing conditions in the art world during her youth. Some reference is made to conditions in South Africa that may have influenced Bertha 's perception of art and her decision to pursue this as a career. Chapter Six discusses, in greater detail, aspects of the South African context in which Bertha Everard lived for the greater part of her adult life. A survey is made of the establishment and development of some early art institutions and the people who constituted the art world at that time in South Africa This is in order to discover possible influences on her work and its reception as well as the socio-political and historical context that may have affected her life. As a counterpoint, the work of three of Bertha's contemporary female South African artists - Allerly Glossop, Maggie Laubser and Irma Stem - is discussed. Chapter Seven discusses possible interpretations of landscape as metaphor related to specific paintings. In this chapter, nationalistic and imperialistic ideologies in South Africa are discussed, comparing Bertha's painting with that of R Pierneef, and some possible interpretations of their use of landscape as metaphor. Appendix I comprises two sections . The Summary of Letters is an overview of the letters that were studied for the purpose of this research. Their contents have been divided into sub-headings , related to areas of interest to this research, namely: Bertha's relationship with Edith, Charles, her children and motherhood, relationships (in general) and issues of gender, politics and racism , mission work and faith, landscape and weather, illness, exhibitions and criticism , work and painting. The Everard Letters gives selected quotations from the letters researched, under the same sub-headings. Appendix 2 records an interview with Leonora Everard Haden, by the candidate, in which Everard Haden's written responses are recorded. Volume 2 contains illustrations of most of Bertha 's work that are referred to in the dissertation.


Thesis (M.A.)-University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2002.


Everard, Bertha, 1873-1965., Women artists--South Africa., Landscape painting--20th century--South Africa., Landscape painters--South Africa., Metaphor., Theses--Fine art.