Architect and now Senior Architecture Lecturer at UFS, Martie Bitzer has always had a passion for art and is an accomplished artist in a variety of media, including water colour, acrylic and pencil. But a 2004 visit to a local craft market, where an abstract mermaid by Elize Roodt literally stopped her in her tracks, resulted in a new direction.
Pewter work dates to the Bronze Age and as Martie finds her inspiration in the roots of cultures like the Inuits and Aborigines, as well as the old African proverbs, it is perhaps no coincidence that she would be led to work in this medium. Her abstract pieces seem to capture the essence of timeless tales, resulting in work with a universal appeal.
Despite the exacting, unforgiving medium – one mistake and you have to start over – Martie has experimented and developed her work in innovative ways. She is the only pewter artist to use jeweller’s enamel to embellish certain pieces. She missed colour, she says, and wanted to add different layers and meaning to her work. Add to this pewter’s natural tendency to capture the light in any space, it is no wonder that architect Jan Smit considers Martie’s work “jewels for the home”.
More recently, Martie has begun creating stunning collages that incorporate painting, pewter, silver leaf and an assortment of found objects such as gears and other metal pieces – visiting local scrap yards is a favourite pastime.
Martie also finds inspiration in being a South African. “We may still have a lot to do as a country,” she says, “but we’ve come a long way.” While some would call her an idealist, she believes the innovative spirit in South Africa, and specifically its youth, will ultimately triumph. One of her contributions is to make beautiful things that move others.