It's Low Tide, and I'm Scraping the Rocks | Michaela Younge

Wed, October 2, 2019 to Sun, October 6, 2019

SMITH is excited to present a solo exhibition of Michaela Younge’s work at the 2019 edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in London. This solo exhibition is titled It's Low Tide, and I'm Scraping the Rocks and consists of 8 new Merino wool on felt works that will be presented in Booth S12 inside Somerset House.

This presentation follows Younge’s successful solo exhibition Nothing Bad which opened in May this year. Younge graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2015 and has participated in numerous group shows and art fairs including Investec Cape Town Art Fair and Art Joburg.

Younge is interested in miscreants, underdogs and exaggerated characters. This new body of work delves deeper into the underbelly of society with a particular focus on South Africa’s West Coast. The West Coast is South Africa’s cultural equivalent to the Wild West. As with the Wild West, mythmaking contributes to the impression of the West Coast as a no man’s land; unruly and ungovernable. The area is populated with small fishing towns, and national parks offering camping facilities to hordes of families looking for an affordable vacation.

Known for being a place with questionable taste, it’s also carries the status of being unpretentious. What you see is what you get. This is the land of double brandy and cokes. You won’t find a Negroni, or Aperol Spritz in sight. Tales of abalone poaching and joy rides along the coast in the early hours of the morning contribute to the folklore surrounding it.

Using the West Coast as a starting point, Younge creates fantastical tableaux vivants where anthropomorphic figures mingle with pin-up girls and headless cherubs amongst bands of not-so-merry men. Having spent much time there, the Artist was drawn to the bizarre mix of characters and the stripped back approach to holidaymaking. In this body of work we encounter an unpredictable roadside stop, a debaucherous game of mini-golf, a camping trip gone awry, a salacious pool scene and a few local bar haunts.

Younge says, “I guess that the West Coast feels a bit wild for lack of a better word, a bit rough and tumble. And I like that, there feels like there's a lack of pretension that comes with living in a city.” She adds, “I heard a legend too, about a man that stole Bengal cats, he'd keep them locked up in his house and there was never any evidence that it was true but it fascinated me.”

Of the Merino wool on felt medium Younge says, “There's something magical about Medieval tapestries, and I'm fascinated by the way that they tell stories. Using wool as my medium, it's an interpretation of what one might consider a tapestry. Along the way it occurred to me that I’d like to create my own felt. It made sense.”

Younge collects quotes and wry remarks from bar patrons and has an uncanny ability to remember quaint details about people. The title of the exhibition is lifted from a chance conversation the Artist had with a bar-dweller as he was finishing his drink and announced, “It’s low tide, and I’m scraping the rocks”.

At the heart of Younge’s practice is a mix of folklore, throwaway comments turned into surreal dreamscapes and ultimately a study of the human psyche. Younge says, “I don’t have an end goal when I make works, they are rather vague commentaries on people I encounter, and the things I see. They are also just ideas, that perhaps people can relate to in some way.”

SMITH is looking forward to welcoming collectors to Booth S12 at 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair London. For press enquiries or to request more information on the exhibition, please contact Jana Terblanche at