Honouring the life and work of some of Durban’s most talented artists, the Fat Tuesday Gallery in Kloof is hosting the Lost Found and Stolen exhibition that runs until May 26. The exhibition depicts the mixed media paintings of Joan Martin, Lara Melon and Maggie Strachan, who worked in collabo-ration for this art display.

In an interview with Tonight, Martin, Melon and Strachan said their exhibition marks their development as individual artists but, more important, it explores their relationship as a group.

“We meet regularly, normally once a month, and provide support for one another. We discuss the conceptual, technical and structural aspects of making art, but more important, we provide emotional strength for one another. It is very difficult to make art alone and all three of us acknowledge the importance of our meetings. As a result, our work connects visually and thematically. We often consciously and unconsciously ‘steal’ from each other’s work.”

All three artists developed a love for art in their childhood days and it represents their personal journeys in life. Martin uses her art to find perspective in her own life.

“My art depicts my past, my fears and what delights me. Recently, I have started to use my art to look back at my life in the Sketchbook Project, hosted by the Brooklyn Art Library in New York,” she said.

As a teacher at Durban Girls’ College, her biggest challenge is balancing the demands of teaching art, making art and maintaining a balanced family life.

Melon’s and Martin’s preferred medium is mixed media and oils while Strachan focuses on oil for its fluidity and rich depth of colour.

According to Melon, there’s just not enough time in the day, week or month to paint and create all she wants to, which she finds challenging. The artist said her friends and family have always supported her every step of the way throughout her career: “Within an art context, my fellow exhibitors Maggie Strachan and Joan Martin have truly inspired me, and then there is also Jeanette Gilks, who is opening our exhibition.”

Strachan finds it challenging to paint as well as run classes in her painting studio. Explaining what her paintings represent, she said: “I have used images of my mother as a child, of myself as a child and also abandoned and neglected buildings, in order to explore ideas of loss.”

These magnificent works of art took just over a year to develop. Explaining the title of their exhibition, Lost, Found and Stolen, the artists said they revisit personal and collective memories, looking at places and ideas that have been abandoned and forgotten by them personally and by society as a whole.

“Lost represents these lost memories and ideas, Found refers to the memories and ideas that have been discovered through our work on this exhibition and Stolen refers to the ‘borrowing’ that goes on between us.”

As for working together as a group, “we pool our strengths and divide up tasks in an organic manner. When something needs to be done, someone in the group offers to take on the task. We have had a few exhibitions together and each time we exhibit, the preparation for these exhibitions seems to be easier. Mutual respect and trust is key”

• The exhibition ends on May 26. For info, call Shannon at 031 717 2781