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Wednesday, February 13, 2013


(Her Facebook profile may show this woman as unmarried and “available”, but add the lower box and the wedding ring is evident on her left hand! Work by Coral Spencer)

Face booked, a solo show by Coral Spencer opened this week at the artSPACEdurban.

Spencer is exploring the use of emoticons and the way the social media has created ways to show emotions using these cartoon images, allowing people to create a persona that is not always correct and easy to hide behind. She also explores the idea that we can create a Facebook persona and leave out or add in information to tailor our image to the one we would like rather than what is. The person becomes what is presented, not what is ... we are reduced to a cartoon image in a flash, a shorthand for emotions.

Another exploration is painting in silver leaf. She admits that it’s quite a process … but she’s loving it.

These works are a far cry from her earliest influences which were classical, having been introduced to plaster casts of roman classical sculpture in the basement of the Glasgow School of Art when she was a child. This being significant, because it was the light that fell on these huge piles of human form that intrigued her the most. A nurturing education in Scotland and an early childhood influenced by a Grandfather who taught art at Ndeleni training college clinched the deal.

Born and schooled in Durban as well as in Scotland and America, Spencer is probably most widely known for her large complex paintings of people on beaches. These display her interest in body language and relationships.

She completed her tertiary studies at Technikon Natal (now DUT) in South Africa in 1986 under the guidance of Jeff Chandler, Andries Botha, Virginia McKenny, Tony Starkey and Clive van den Berg. She has had nine solo exhibitions and has been part of many group and collaborative exhibitions. Her work is featured in select galleries in Durban, Johannesburg, Clarence, Cape Town and the Neu Bethesda.

Now a single mother, she often travels to London to view the summer collections. She regularly attends and arranges artists’ retreats in Clarence and the Karoo.

The exhibition was opened by artSMart editor Caroline Smart, who also made the announcement that Spencer had kindly offered to do cartoons of theatre shows for the website. Her first cartoon – that of KickstArt’s Twitch which is currently running at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre - can be seen on artSMart at

artSPACE durban is situated at 3 Millar Road (off Umgeni Road) close to the Waste Centre. More information on 031 312 0793 or visit or