Stopping at Willem Boshoff’s studio, you are met with the sound of grinding and drilling and sawing, with puffs of smoke and dust billowing through the doors and windows of the workshop. Anticipation rises, because you know that this day is going to be like a private performance art piece and you are the only audience member invited!
I was expecting to meet a man with a manner as imposing and large as his physical demeanour and his work, but instead I was met by a soft-spoken dad and grandfather. His son Martin is his apprentice and Martin’s shadow is his young son, who sits with a hammer and a piece of wood just outside the workshop, oblivious of the art that is being created inside.
Willem conceptualises… formulates the idea and decides on how to use words, language and form to portray his message. Known for using natural materials to make sociopolitical statements in installations that have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, he has become an icon of the South African art scene.
Willem Boshoff has been involved in academia since the very early stages of his career, having received an honorary Doctorate from the University of Johannesburg for his work and his contribution to the arts in South Africa. Even-though he has been a full-time artist for many years now, he can still be found acting as a mentor, guest lecturer and examiner to many students, always ready with a word of guidance.
Martin – Willem’s eldest son–- is a qualified industrial designer in his own right. His knowledge of the material and skill with the machinery is an obvious asset to the workshop. There more than likely can’t be a more encouraging mentor than this man, but he is also Martin’s dad, which means there is a more dynamic relationship at play in this workshop.
Where other apprentices would more than likely just agree, Martin is in the position to question and challenge his dad’s choices. They often stand over a piece of work, discussing and sometimes arguing about the right way to approach the piece. Needless to say… more often than not… the master wins the battle and the apprentice adheres to his wishes.
Willem Boshoff is equipping his son to build on his legacy and it was amazing to see two generations working together to create work that is impactful and relevant. We are anticipating incredible things from Martin and of course we are always on the lookout for a new revelation from Mr Boshoff!
Thank you for allowing us to spend a day in your studio, it was a privilege to see genius at work! You are more of a legend than we ever could have anticipated! Wow! What a guy!… and you too Martin!