“Travelling was never something I thought I would do a lot of; but I am an opportunist and I enjoy adventures”, Cronje explains.
One such adventure saw her travel by yacht from Cape Town to Gibraltar in 1998. A lover of the ocean, alongside travel, boats and the water have since become common themes in many of her artworks.
“Spending time in different countries has had a huge influence on my work. My sailing journey has become a symbol of the journey of life: how choices we make and take determine the next stages in our lives. If you stay or go are both equally big decisions.”
Birds were common visitors on Cronje’s sailing journey, often becoming the first to greet them before arriving at a new destination or calling the yacht home for a brief while before carrying on with their own journeys. This wildlife, too, has become a key subject in the artist’s work, symbolising journeys taken and migratory themes.
Cronje’s first New Zealand exhibition, in 2008, was titled ‘Creative Journeys’ and used birds as a symbol for her own migration. A similar show in 2009, ‘If Godwits Couldn’t Fly’ explored displacement and a sense of being torn between two countries.
Native to New Zealand, the godwit holds the record for the longest non-stop flight of any land-based, migratory bird.
They fly to Alaska every year to breed and return again the following year. If they can do that, I could be from two countries as well.”
Basing her work on a deep pool of experiences, it took several years in New Zealand for Cronje to gather the material and ideas to begin painting.
“The birth of my daughter became a way back in. I had painted for friends and family before, but becoming a mother made me braver. I set up my art business in New Zealand as a company and I was ‘The Sleepy Kiwi’, creating children’s art and Kiwi-themed ABC posters. It grew organically from there, and looking back over 10 years of exhibiting in galleries across New Zealand, it has been a continuous motion of growth and progress”.
This year, Cronje and her horticulturalist partner have combined their love of Art and Plants and opened Deciduus; a gallery and plant boutique. The space hosts a small number of artists for a three month period before changing artists and themes.
The gallery is currently hosting the works of seven female, New Zealand artists all working with botanical themes.
You can see more of Cronje’s work on her website www.santie.co.nz, and artists interested in learning more about Deciduus can follow the gallery on Facebook, www.facebook.com/deciduus.
Images Courtesy of