Nikki  Miles

(photos by Claire Gunn)

What are you offering this Art Route?

A group exhibition of like minded artists who all use natural materials from their environment. Materials are found, foraged, hand gathered or grown and botanical inks or paints from earth and plant pigments are hand made using non-synthetic binders. 

 What has inspired this body of work?

At the core of my practice is the exploration of the fragility and interconnected relationships between myself and the non-human and topophilia - the love of place. I wanted to move towards a more sustainable studio practice using natural plant pigments to make my own paint and found very little information about the use of our indigenous plants in the making botanical pigments. And so my exploration of our local plant pigments began.

What materials are you using and how do you relate to them?

My practice is process driven. Seasonal, indigenous plants are hand gathered from the veld and taken back to the studio where inks and pigments are made. I am deeply connected to my materials from source to final paint and ultimately to the artwork itself. I love the process and the gifts that I unlock from each plant, the vibrant, unexpected, unpredictable colours.

Is there anything you are doing now that is a new emerging expression in your artistic process?

I continue to make my illustrated skulls but I am also trying different materials, works on paper and board and enjoying the playful exploration of the creative process. A transition from the materials that I’m used to working with to a joyful discovery of the new possibilities that the natural materials offer.

How does the B'bos environment inform your process?

Topophilia - the love of place. B'bos is at the heart of the fynbos biome and I forage in the veld where I have access to a plethora of local species. I ethically harvest lichen and bark, from windfall only, from the small pockets of forest in the village and gather plant material from the gardens of family and friends and the verges of the streets. 

What long term projects are you working on?

My quest is to find indigenous pigments that have good lightfast properties, that I can develop into a range of inks and pigments and to share my knowledge though workshops to others who would like to move away from synthetic art materials.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

I studied a BA Fine Art at the University of Stellenbosch, majoring in Painting.  

Each plant gives a different pigment

Find Nikki

Address:  Old Post Office, Kerk Street, Baardskeerdersbos


Instagram: @forage_ink

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