Ingrid Nuss is an artist based in Wilderness, a Garden Route town that won her heart during visits with a university friend. She is an acrylic painter in the style of Surrealism, a dream-like realistic art movement. Her work speaks of imagination, joy and symbolic dreams. She has had several solo exhibitions all across the Garden Route. After spending three years on international cruise ships selling art, she is now a full-time artist portraying her childhood influences and views of the world through her work. She tells the story of her early life experiences that has played a role in her development as an artist.
“I was born in Wellington. My father was very big on camping, we used to go hiking up in Bainskloof, the mountain pass in Wellington, so that stimulated my love for creativity from a very young age. Then we’d go up that stretch all the way to Namibia and pull off the main road, take the next dirt road, pitch up a tent and sit there under the stars. And obviously, Namibia’s stars… I think it’s influenced the way I look at the sky a lot. Then we moved to Namibia temporarily because of my dad’s job transfer, just for two years when I was thirteen. That was quite an amazing experience as well. And through it all, just drawing and painting was kind of my companion. It gave me something to do and also influenced the way I looked at my environment.
“I’ve got a studio space built onto my home. So I work from home, which is very convenient. There’s a stunning view across the lakes when I’m painting. Aside from the obvious influences like artists – Salvador Dali and Frida Kahlo and artists who always pushed their imaginations – I think that being a child with a big imagination always helped me look things in a different way. But like with surrealism, I believe there’s a way you can live your life by focusing on that kind of magical reality. So that’s why I think I like to dwell on it so much in my subject matter, because it actually takes me there.
“As a kid, I was fascinated by outer space. Just the sense of perspective it gives me when I take my mind there… It’s almost as if I feel like this planet is my home rather than South Africa, specifically. I mean, yes, I’m very attached to the Garden Route, but our globalisation in the world and just the fact that we’re this collective species, it actually helps us understand that we need to take care of our home, which is actually Earth.