Eleanor Turvey

Born 1969 in Botswana. Lives and works in Cape Town, South Africa.

Turvey became a full-time artist in 2012. She launched her career with a series of arresting and powerful collage portraits. Over the past five years she has developed into one of South Africa’s most innovative collage artists. What sets her work apart is a unique technique and a continuously evolving practice. There are no torn pages from newspapers or magazines; on the contrary, Turvey generates all her own content, all of which is referential only to the depicted subject. She paints on paper, board and canvas, using a variety of media including water colours, ink and acrylics. Her portraits are then constructed by assembling and layering strips of her own paintings. Her primary tool is her scalpel.

Her earliest collage portraits were mounted onto canvas and depending on size, often included multiple panels. Her latest portraits are mounted onto plywood; this shift successfully enabled the artist to explore and incorporate a street art aesthetic. In 2016 Turvey produced a portrait of Yinka Shonibare MBE; by referencing the subject’s own practice she went on to produced an interactive five panel puzzle piece combining collage, QR Code and animation.

Having successfully managed to incorporated QR codes and animation into her work, and thus enabling viewer participation she proceeded to explore this angle. For a new series, This is not a photo released in 2017, she included digital montages and animations which do not exist as original pieces, only as data and cloned simulations. In her latest work, produced at the end of 2017/2018, and much inspiration by the thinking of Rene Magritte, she combined digital montage, collage,assemblage,sound and two layers of animation. “The work therefore resonates and participates on a number of different planes, dimensions and levels of sensory information.”

I strongly believe that everything is energy, even that which we perceive as “reality” is energy and the belief that thought shapes reality and that thought, focus, imagination and intention are the means by which we convert energy into reality; these are the core concepts that underpin my work. These insights raised the questions: What reality do I want to create? Whose thoughts have projected a future that I want to live? Can art and the process of creation actually be a vehicle by which this transformation can take place? These questions lead to my first series of work Thoughts and Words which venerates those who have dedicated their lives to creating a better future and to the upliftment of humanity.

In 2017 Turvey and Johannesburg based collage artist, Chepape Khehla Makgato decided to collaborate. Their seven panel collaborative piece, The Future is a Collaboration will be launched at the upcoming Investec Cape Town Art Fair in Cape Town in February.


2018 Once When We Were Free Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa
2018 Investec Cape Town Art Fair South Africa
2017 Turbine Art Fair Johannesburg, South Africa
2017 Cape Town Art Fair Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa
*2016 Auf Wiedersehen is not Good Bye, Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa
2016 START, Saatchi Gallery London, United Kingdom
2016 Turbine Art Fair Johannesburg, South Africa
2016 Cape Town Art Fair Cape Town International Convention Centre, South Africa
2015 Form & Substance Erdmann Contemporary, Cape Town, South Africa
2015 Group Exhibition Sophie Lalonde Gallery, Gaborone, Botswana
2015 This is Not a Portrait Rust & Vrede Gallery, Durbanville, South Africa
2013 Sanlam Portrait Awards Top 40 Rust & Vrede Gallery, Durbanville, South Africa


Sanlam Portrait Awards, Top 40 Finalist, 2013


Kilbourn Collection, Cape Town, South Africa
Liang Collection, Hong Kong
De Beers Group, Botswana