Jenna Burchell is an award winning South African artist who is driven to find ways to preserve the fragile and ephemeral nature of memory and experience. Burchell often fuses the digital with the natural world in order to create vessels, archives and libraries that are subverted with narratives from the periphery. Burchell’s process is stochastic, it allows function and relational aesthetics to direct the physical formation of her work. This often results in sculptural sound objects and large-scale interactive environments in which the audience must be present. People, communities and places are rooted in the essence of her practice.
Burchell (born 1985) has exhibited at various national and international galleries, museums and institutions. Her works have been featured as special projects at select art fairs including: The Art15 (London), and the FNB Joburg Art Fair (South Africa). She was the recipient of the Thami Mnyele Fine Art Award (2011) and has been a resident artist at sculpture parks such as the YSP and Nirox. Her traveling solo project titled Homing was featured on the main programme at the National Arts Festival, Makhanda (2014). Burchell has a permanent outdoor sound installation that forms part of her international project titled Songsmith, resident at the Spier Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, South Africa (2018).
About the Artist
Commissions, Grants & Awards
UPCOMING - Department of Arts and Culture: Songsmith (Spirit of the Khoisan). Eight permanent sound sculptures commissioned for Sarah Bartmann Center of Remembrance, Hankey, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
2018 – Spier Arts Trust: Songsmith (The Great Karoo). Permanent Installation commissioned for Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
2015 - Soundlands Public Art Grant: Songsmith (Bangor City). Bangor City, Wales, United Kingdom.
2015 - Afrika Burn Art Grant: The Geographers. Tankwa, Karoo, South Africa.
2014 - National Arts Festival Main Programme Grant: Homing. Makhanda, South Africa.
2013 - Ithuba Arts Fund: Homing. Johannesburg, South Africa.
2011 - Thambi Mnyele Fine Arts Award: Overall Winner.
2010 - Absa Atilier Contemporary Fine Arts Awards: Top 100.
2009 - Thambi Mnyele Fine Arts Award: New Media Merit Award.
2009 - Sasol New Signatures: Top 100.
2006 - Coca Cola Bursary Award for Studies in Arts.
2005 - Golden Key Society Membership for Academic Excellence.
2003 - Johan Canon Art Trophy.
2018 - Songsmith (The Great Karoo), Spier Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
2020 - Songsmith. UPCOMMING. Circa Gallery at Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2016 - Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind). FNB Joburg Art Fair, Gallery Solo Project. Presented by Sulger-Buel Lovell, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2014 – Homing. Lovell Conceptual, Woodstock, Capetown, South Africa
2014 – Homing. Rhodes School of Art Gallery, National Arts Festival (Main Programme), Makhanda, South Africa.
2008 - Murmur. Silence. Touch. Gordart Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Art Fairs & Special Projects:
2020 - UPCOMMING. KKNK, A Land I Name Yesterday with Jaco van Schalkwyk, Wayne Matthews and Barnard Gallery. Outdshoorn, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
2020 - Investec Cape Town Art Fair, Collaborative work with Jaco van Schalkwyk, shown with Barnard Gallery, Capetown, South Africa.
2019 - FNB Joburg Art Fair. Group exhibition represented by Everard Read, Johannesburg, South Africa
2019 – Investec Cape Town Art Fair. Represented by Sulger-Buel Gallery, Capetown, South Africa.
2018 – 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Represented by Sulger-Buel Gallery, London UK.
2017 - 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell, London, UK.
2017 - Cape Town Art Fair. Represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell, Capetown, South Africa.
2015 - Art 15. Special Project: Homing. Represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell, London, United Kingdom
2015 - FNB Joburg Art Fair. Special Project: The Narrators. Represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell, Johannesburg, South Africa
2014 - Turbine Art Fair. Special Project: Homing. Represented by Lovell Conceptual, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2013 - Turbine Art Fair. Special Project: Urban Wetlands. Represented by Lovell Conceptual, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Group Exhibitions (Selected):
2019 - A Land I Name Yesterday. With Jaco van Schalkwyk and Wayne Matthews. Barnard Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa.
2018 - Sweep Landskip: curated by Roberto Eckholm. Kino Kindo, Sandness, Norway.
2018 – EVE. With Sonja Braas, Renee Cox, Guerrilla Girls, Mekhala Bahl and Anthony Gormley.
Amar Gallery, London, UK.
2017 - Songsmith (Yorkshire Sculpture Park). Ephemeral installation, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, United Kingdom.
2016 - A Place In Time: curated by Helen Pheby. Winter Sculpture Fair, Nirox Sculpture Park, Cradle of Humankind, South Africa.
2016 - Songsmith (Bangor City). Soundlands, Bangor City, Wales, United Kingdom.
2015 - Altered Realities: curated by Johan Conradie. Association of Arts, Pretoria, South Africa.
2015 - The Geographers. Afrika Burn, Tankwa, Karoo, South Africa
2014 – Make It New: curated by Rayda Becker, Jos Thorne, Jane Solomon and Isabel Schneider. World Design Capital Exhibition, Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa.
2013 – Stay: curated by Lavendhri Arumugam. Ithuba Arts Gallery, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2013 - Digi Re-Engineering: curated by K vd Walt, J de Rooster, J Lebeko and B Mknonza. UNISA art gallery, Pretoria, South Africa.
2012 - Terra Firma: curated by Elfriede Dreyer. Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa.
2012 - A.R.T: curated by Carol Brown. Travelling group show: Smithsonian, Washington DC; Michealis Galleries, Capetown, South Africa; Museum Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa; KZNSA art Gallery, Durban, South Africa.
2012 - The Hanging Gardens: curated by Paul Bayliss. KKNK arts festival, Outdshoorn, South Africa.
2011 - Designs of Nature: curated by Elfriede Dreyer. Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa. With; Rina Strutzer, Frikkie Ekstein and Christian Hattingh.
2010 - Bodies in Transition: curated by Elfriede Dreyer. Fried Contemporary Art Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa.
2010 – Dystopia: curated by Elfriede Dreyer and Jacob Lebeko. Travelling group show: Oliewenhuis Museum, Bloemfontein (2010); Museum Africa, Johannesburg (2009); Unisa Art Gallery, Pretoria (2009).
2009 - The Point will be Defeated. Platform on 18th Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa.
2009 - Addict Lab 09. Design Square, Johannesburg, South Africa.
2008 – Fabrication: curated by Audrey Anderson. Magpie Gallery, Centurion, South Africa.
2008 – Bewilderness. With Retha Furguson. Magpie Gallery, Centurion, South Africa.
2007 - i spy: in completion of Fine Arts Degree (Hons). SACTE building, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
Reviews, Features and Articles
ArtThrob: The Sound In Our Heads: Jaco van Schalkwyk, Jenna Burchell, and Wayne Matthews's 'A Land I Name Yesterday'. Review written by Ashraf Jamal. October 2019.
10and5: Creativate Digital Arts Festival: Something for the Insanely Curious. Article written by Tyrone Fisher. June 2019.
Business Day: Golden Sounds of Ancient Rocks in the Karoo. Feature by Lucinda Jolly. September 2018.
New African Magazine: Singing in the New. Feature by Beverly Andrews. June 2018.
Spier: The Singing Stones of Spier. January 2018.
Art Versed: Jenna Burchell: Art, Technology and Nature. Feature by Isabel Gilchrist. 6 October 2017.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park: Visiting Artist:Jenna Burchell. 30 September 2017.
Art.co.za: 'The Singing Rocks' - Artist Jenna Burchell turns ancient rocks into songsmiths. 23 June 2016.
Two-Vivid Productions: Jenna Burchell. August 2015.
ArtLogic: JoburgArt Fair Video. 11 September 2015.
ELLE: 5 Must-See Artists: Joburg Art Fair. 11 September 2015.
Artsy: 10 Young African Artists You Should Know. 31 August 2015.
10and5: FNB JoburgArtFair: Jenna Burchell | Histories That Resonate. 25 August 2015.
ArtNet News: What to see and buy at Art15 London Art Fair. 21 May 2015.
After Nyne Online:Top Ten Art15 Pieces you wish you'd thought of first. 25 May 2015.
B-Things Blog: Homing - interactive installation by Jenna Burchell. Review by Yolandi Schreuder. 29 October 2014.
Lovell Conceptual presents Homing by Jenna Burchell: Documentary video. 19 October 2014.
What's On In Capetown: Review:Homing at the Lovell Gallery. Review by Jaroslav Kalac. August 2014.
Oppidanpress: Tech-savvy artists at fest. Article by Lili Barras-Hargan. 7 August 2014.
Cape Argus Early (Life): Harping on memories. Review by Diane de Beer. 30 July 2014.
Architype Online Magazine: Homing. Feature by Toni Clayton. 19 July 2014.
IOL Tonight: Evocative soundscapes and flights of fancy. Diane de Beer. 15 July 2014.
Business Day: Children, adults and cabinet ministers. Review by Chris Thurman.10 July 2014.
Cue: Sounds From Home. Review by Dave Mann and Isabel M. Castro. 7 July 2014.
The Herald: Harp-like sculpture pulls at heartstrings. Review by Diane de Beer. 4 July 2014.
Mail and Gaurdian: Interactive and on all the time. Feature by Jessica Hunkin. 27 June 2014.
Media Update: National Arts Festival to trace SA's heritage and legacies in 2014. 20 June 2014.
10and5 Featured Artist: Interactive installation and performance artist Jenna Burchell. Feature by Jessica Hunkin. 10 June 2014.
Business Day TV: Ithuba Arts Award. 3 November 2013.
Ithuba Arts Gallery: Ithuba Art Fund Award. 19 July 2013.
The Sunday Times Read Right Supplement: Artists in your pocket: A mini guide to contemporary SA artists. 19 August 2012.
Live Out Loud Milionairs Magazine: Designs of Nature - Artist Profile. Feature by Christine Grove. 19 May 2011.
2017 - Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
2016 - Nirox Sculpture Park, Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng, South Africa.
2015 - Soundlands, Bangor City, Wales, United Kingdom.
2014 - National Arts Festival, Makhanda, South Africa.
2012 - Arteles Residency, Hämeenkyrö, Finland.