To admire Jen Adam's warm and soulful ethnic artworks is to experience a spiritual journey into Africa.
Her art depicts women and children walking through vast, arid, glowing landscapes. It captures rural Africa: dry, hot, sometimes barren land that is nevertheless emotionally and spiritually rich, with its diverse people and cultures and magnificent, fiery sunrises and sunsets.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1956, Adam grew up in the sub-tropical climes outside Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. From 1985 to 2007, she worked as a ceramist artist, making and painting on ceramics and teaching aspiring ceramists while exhibiting and selling her work.
"With encouragement from my husband, Bill, and an artist friend, Natasha Barnes, I started painting on canvas," she says. "I mostly tell the story of the African women and their children around me because of my huge admiration. The rural women I paint generally raise their children on their own without much help from the fathers, who venture off to the cities to make money. These women have much adversity in their lives and do a remarkable job."
Working in mostly quite thick acrylics and some mixed medium – charcoal, chalk, watercolours – Adam's art soon found an audience. "I think my art has a 'feel' for Africa and is painted with love. I think that's what art lovers, both locally and from around the world respond to. I was thrilled to find my paintings sold as fast as I could paint them."
Adam lives in a quiet town on KwaZulu-Natal's South Coast.