Lyn Gilbert (born 1942) is a painter, teacher and book illustrator. She graduated from the University of Natal with a BA Fine Art and later from Rhodes University with an MA in Fine Art.
She has worked as a high school art teacher and as a design trainer for rural craft communities in the Eastern Cape. As a book illustrator, she has worked on 36 story books for young children, collaborated with other illustrators on 33 textbooks for educational publishers and three practical self-help manuals for adults. Recently, she has illustrated two wordless picture books for psychologists working with children. She is currently mentoring four young illustrators from underprivileged communities in the art of illustrating wordless books. The purpose of these books is to enable the parent/carer to create their own stories from the pictorial cues.
Lyn has had several solo exhibitions and group shows and has paintings in private collections in England, Hong Kong, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Australia and Canada, as well as South Africa.
Lyn is a painter who works primarily with imagination. Her work, even when it seems realistic, evokes mythical and imaginative figures. But it is a down-to-earth mythical world, of worried-looking angels, flowing goddesses, characters with strongly defined expression, and plants and animals which seem to radiate their own light. All these elements are rendered in a subtle yet confident style that includes abstract textures, colour fields, and figures, often within the same painting.
Lyn has said that her paintings start from emotion and intuition, with no sense of the finished canvas. As she works and reworks the surface, she allows chance, colour, and inner mood to lead her to the next step. This approach generates depth from within, and if it appears multi-layered it is because it is literally so. Her close connection with natural environments, her skill and experience, and her trust in her own unconscious processes, allow her to fluidly express the essence of each moment. As critic Kin Bentley wrote: “Lyn Gilbert’s works over the years have just got better and better.”
Lyn has been part of several group and solo exhibitions, most recently a solo retrospective in Cape Town 2014. Catherine Knox wrote of an earlier National Arts Festival exhibition: “The care – almost tenderness – of execution is very much part of the subtle layers of meaning that sediment her dream images … Ideas embodied as sturdy black cherubs, float above a character’s head. There is character, drama, and something approaching a literary quality in the work.”
Lyn is currently immersed in a world of semi-fantasy figures, animals and plants with rich colours which is reflected in her latest work.
2014 Casa Labia Gallery, Cape Town
2007 National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
2012 Rust en Vrede Gallery, Durbanville CapeTown
2012 Isart Gallery, Franschoek
1999 Cuyler Street Gallery, Port Elizabeth
1998 Lutge Gallery, Cape Town
Ilustrator, Children’s picture books
1999 Song Of Six Birds. Andersen Press UK
1996 While You Sleep. Dutton New York
1995 Tabu and the Dancing Elephants. Dutton New York
Illustrator, Children’s story books (a selection)
2017 All’s Well That Ends Well. Mikhulu Trust, SA
2016 Little Helpers. Mikhulu Trust, SA
2004 Little Angel. Oxford University Press, SA
Tumelo’s Special Mielie Seeds. Heinemann, SA
2003 Five Magic Stories. MacMillan Educational, UK
2002 Madiba Magic. Tafelberg, SA
Mtikazi’s Mistake. MacMillan Educational, UK
1996 The Toma Tales. Human & Rousseau, SA
The Strange Large Egg. Gecko Books. SA
1995 Die Geheim. Juta, SA
1992 Nduku and the Magic Seed. Human & Rousseau, SA
Ganekwane and the Green Dragon. Human & Rousseau, SA