7. Tree Composition #2, ink on paper, 100 x 70cm, 2020

(b. 1971, St John’s, Newfoundland)

Tanya Poole was born in St John’s, Newfoundland, and grew up in Bahrain, England and South Africa. She graduated with an MFA from Rhodes University in 1998. Trained primarily as a painter, Poole has also worked with video, performance, installation, theatre design and, most recently, paint animation. She made her solo debut in 1996 at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa followed by five more solo exhibitions from 1998 to 2000.

In addition to exhibitions in South Africa, Poole has also participated in exhibitions abroad including Collection of South African Art, at The Chicago Institute and the South African Embassy, USA (1996); Three Women at the Mattamondo Gallery, Notting Hill, London (2000); Possibilities (curated by the Bell-Roberts Gallery) in Mumbai, India (2007); Juncture: New Paintings from South Africa at the Artspace, Linienstrasse, Berlin, Germany (2010); and Mullinspoole (with Nigel Mullins) in Liemen, Germany in 2011. 

Poole’s recent work is inspired by entomology, nature and the DNA of trees, with reference to investigating one’s own lineage and biological code. In her recent exhibition Ancient Codes at Everard Read Cape Town, Poole explains: ‘These paintings are prompted by visual hooks in the natural environment around my family's house and my own and by deep instincts relating to family and partnerships. They are also embellished by thoughts about the ancient codes of genetics and biology, both ours and our environment's. The process of making a painting, the thought of it and the planning of it, the mental and emotional references, the decisions on materials and scale, the construction of it, mark by mark that is like nest making, is to satisfy the urge to construct and the thought of making, to fantasise and to rationalise and this process shimmers like a web attached somewhere between instinct and reason’.

Tanya Poole currently lives and works in France.


The Night Guide, Everard Read, Cape Town, South Africa

Undergrowth, Everard Read, London, UK
Summer 2021, Everard Read, London, UK

Against Interpretation, Everard Read, London, UK

Ancient Codes, Everard Read CIRCA Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

The Island, Everard Read Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

The Becoming Child, Underculture Contemporary, Port Elizabeth; and Liebrecht Gallery, Somerset West, South Africa

Juncture: New Paintings from South Africa, with solos by Nigel Mullins and Luan Nel, Artspace, Linienstrasse, Berlin, Germany
Last One Standing, Artspace, Johannesburg, South Africa

Drift, Bell-Roberts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa

Missing, Franchise Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa

Inner Site Violence (with concept collaborator Clare Keenan), Grahamstown, South Africa
Bedtime Stories, Dorp Street Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Inner Site Violence, St James, Cape Town; and Millennium Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa

Limnetic Zone (with photographs by Angela Lazaro), Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa
Exhibition in Three Parts: Masters degree submission, including paintings, video installations and performance art, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

Behind the Green Door, Standard Bank National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, South Africa