Artist Andries Dirks, from Riebeeck Kasteel, works on a sculpture. He will exhibit his work in August, alongside acclaimed artists. Supplied
Cape Town - An ex-convict-turned-artist, from Riebeeck Kasteel, will have the opportunity to showcase his handmade clay sculptures at an annual art event in 
August.

Andries Dirks, 46, will share a platform, at Solo Studios, with acclaimed artists - such as Anton Momberg, Riaan van Zyl, Jenny Parsons, Leila Fanner, Gordon Williams, Ade Kipades and Li Nepgen. Dirks said he knew from a very young age that he wanted to be an artist.

“I was born on a farm in Riebeeck Kasteel and, since I was the only child around, I had nothing else to do but mess around with clay and form figures, so I started loving the art and creating things with my hands,” Dirks said.

“I first make contact with Klaus Piprek, who is the organiser of Solo Studios, in 2015, after his sister saw me creating clay sculptures outside of an art gallery in Riebeeck Wes. They were both impressed with my work.”

Dirks was incarcerated three times in his lifetime, at Riebeek West Correctional Facility, first from 1991 to 1993 - for serious assault, then from 1994 to 2000 - for murder, then from 2002 to 2005 - for serious assault again.

“I have left that life behind me and it was through the life skills programme, that was provided by the correctional facility, that I realised that the reason I kept getting arrested for these types of crimes is because of all the anger I had inside myself,” he said.

In 2005, Dirks met his wife and together they now have five children, all of whom are still at school.

“From 2006 to 2015, I worked as a maintenance guy at a guest house called Goedgedacht Farm, but now I just do odd jobs, like painting, gardening and so on,” he said.

“I would love to make and sell my sculptures on a full-time basis, but I need to support my family, so that is just not possible right now. My wife works as a cook at a restaurant nearby, called The Valley Kitchen, so we both work to keep the household going”

Dirks will be exhibiting his clay sculptures and selling his work, alongside some of the most well-known artists in South Africa, thanks to an initiative conceptualised by Li Nepgen, an award-winning artist, who owns the Love Art Studio in Riebeeck Kasteel, where she practices her art and conducts classes.

Artist Andries Dirks, from Riebeeck Kasteel, works on a sculpture. He will exhibit his work in August, alongside acclaimed artists. Supplied
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