I was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on 25 May 1970 - I have a sister 2 years older than me whose name is Gallia. Our parents Dad Dr PW Ashton, a doctor of Psychiatry, and Mom Rose Geyer, a teacher, (both now remarried) helped to shape us into the women we are today.

A large part of that shaping took place as a result of a dream, which my parents turned into reality: To circumnavigate the world on a yacht built by themselves. The yacht was a 39ft sloop named New Morning (Bob Dylan was always a favourite).

We set sail from the Royal Cape Yacht Club early in 1979. Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, up to the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal (Central America), exploring the South Pacific islands before we headed across the Pacific Ocean to Northland New Zealand, where we docked for 2 years.

The earth is the Lords and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein,
For He has founded it upon the seas
And established it upon the water.

Psalm 24 vs 1 & 2

Another experience that shaped me was a short time of education at the Michael Oak Waldorf school in Kenilworth before we set sail. The school was very encouraging of any artistic ability and even then, at the age of 6, I knew that my career would be defined by my creative ability.

Due to the fact that we traveled extensively our education was fairly disjointed. From Michael Oak to home schooling on board New Morning to primary education in New Zealand and then, on our return to South Africa, Sans Souci High School in Newlands and Rosebank House College where I finally matriculated.

Art has always been my first love besides horse riding, polo cross and competitive swimming. I therefore chose to study Fine Art (although I only completed one year) at Michaelis UCT. I met my husband, Lorne Mason, at Rosebank House College and we were married 2 years later. Lorne and I have 2 daughters Jesse born in 1989 and Kerry in 1999.

Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.

Proverbs 16:3

My career as an artist got off to a fairly slow start due to my addiction to golf at the time and I finally had a couple of exhibitions towards the end of 1991. In 1993, inspired by my love of the ocean, I started painting whales and dolphins from an underwater perspective. I then added sharks to my underwater subjects, particularly my favourite - the Great White Shark.

In the early 1990s, Corne Pienaar and I designed, carved and painted Jelutong wood carvings. Working on a textured panel not less than 1.5 m in length was a great experience and was interesting from an interior decorating point of view. We mainly used water based paints, aerosols and enamel paint. Exhibitions of these works were held at Bellingham Wine Estate, Strand Pavilion, and The Baxter Gallery.

My first exhibition of traditional oil paintings was held with Namibian artist Hein Van Huyssteen at the Somerset West Country Club. It was great fun and we sold about 2/3 of the paintings.

In 1996 a group of my underwater paintings were accepted in the famous Lassen Gallery in San Fransisco USA.

During the next few years I held more solo exhibitions:

1997 - Solo Exhibition at Neelsie Centre, Stellenbosch - Whales & Dolphins.
1998 - Solo Exhibition at Fisherman's gallery of Hermanus - variety of works.
1999 - Commenced work on large abstract figure canvases.
2000 - Solo Exhibition at the Library Hall of Hermanus - variety of works.

During this time I started to experiment a lot more with texture and mixed media. My subject matter included more of the human form, often painted in a simplified or abstract way. I concentrated more on colour and contrast using a lot of black enamel paint and oils in an impasto manner. This was a break through in certain areas for me; I found expressive freedom in creating abstract works.

2001 - Solo Exhibition at Gallery No. 10 in Hermanus. Consisted entirely of large simple, abstract work on textured canvases. Three paintings were created in direct response to the September 11 disaster.

2002 - Solo Exhibition at De Stijl Gallery in Onrus a very mixed exhibition underwater, abstract and wildlife.

My grandfather Dr EH Ashton, an anthropologist who had worked in Basutoland, left a wealth of photos and written material which I found extremely valuable as I started to work with the African theme. I used a lot of natural matter glued onto the canvas for extra interest like sand, beads and twigs; which gave a very pleasing result.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

2002 Invitational Exhibition at the Western Cape Hotel & Spa in conjunction with the Abdullah Ibrahim concert.

Later on in the year I participated in a Group Exhibition at De Stijl Gallery during the Kalfie Fees with other local artists including Shelley Adams and Nico van Rensburg.

2003 I dived straight into completely abstract work, which I sometimes feel was a bit of a cop out. However, it was obviously what I needed to do at the time and probably a valuable stage in my career as an artist. Often the intricacies of balancing and giving structure to an abstract painting, where no obvious form is evident, is quite a daunting task.

In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.
The earth was without form and void,
And darkness was on the face of the deep,
And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1,2

2004 Solo exhibition at the Whale House in Hermanus included very large to small canvases and a self-portrait. I had great fun creating this reflection of myself sticking clumps of my dark hair onto a bright orange oil painted canvas.

2004 Received the wonderful honour of having one of my paintings of a Himbo Woman used for the front cover of a book named Sadie. Sadie is an historical novel written by Barry Cole that revolves around the life of a slave girl who became a minister to her people in Northern America 1700s.

2005 After becoming very interested in hiking and the great outdoors I found it irresistible, and a real calling to glorify God through painting His incredible creation. The patience involved in painting landscapes is character building, yet highly rewarding.

I also enjoy the challenge and change of doing mural work. Commissions include two for the Western Cape Hotel & Spa and another that a Dutch businessman commissioned for his guesthouse on the sea front in De Kelders.

Living in a holiday town has made my work accessible to foreigners and a lot of my paintings have found their way overseas to private collections in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan, the UK, Ireland, the USA, Australia, Namibia and Mozambique.

A handful of artists who have influenced me over the years include Leonardo da Vinci, Paul Degas, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock. South African artists include Cecil Skotness, Judith Mason and William Kentridge.

Other art tuition has included Life Drawing and Painting classes at the Hermanus Art Centre under the guidance of Shelley Adams. Some very valuable lessons in composition, form and the dynamics of a painting were learned with her, although my first experience with oil paint was at the age of 11 taking private lessons with a Dutch artist in New Zealand.

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Telephone : (+27 28) 316 3181
  Cell : 084 705 4828
 

2002-2006 Marusa Mason : All Rights Reserved
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