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Artist Bio

Elrie Joubert is a Bloemfontein-based, South African visual artist, and obsessive collector of miniature natural objects. Joubert completed her BA Fine Arts (cum laude for painting) at the University of the Free State in 2006 and went on to receive her MA (Fine Arts) in 2010 from the same institution.

Joubert won the Absa L’Atelier in 2012 and as part of her prize, received a six-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France in 2013. She has also participated in various group exhibitions, notably The inquisitive mind: science and imagination (2014) at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, and Small Objects (2013) with artist Brian Collier in New York, USA. Joubert had her first solo exhibition in 2014, entitled For Keep’s Sake, followed by From Crane Flies to Cameos in 2016.

Joubert is currently working as a Lecturer at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein.

Artist Statement


Behavioural genetics—linking Elrie Joubert’s daughter’s childhood memories of collecting with her own. Eighty-nine bottles are filled with feathers. All feathers were collected in the span of one year by Elrie’s then three-year-old daughter. This collection raises questions about why one will be fascinated by a particular object, and whether collecting can be linked with behavioural genetics (nature vs nurture).



This installation consists of a thousand miniature found objects collected, labelled with a number corresponding with a date and location using @what3words. What3words is a geocoding system that encodes geographic coordinates into three dictionary words; for example, Bloemfontein City Hall is located at The encoding is permanently fixed and used to communicate specific locations. Each collected object is preserved in a size 0, clear gelatine capsule and individually displayed on a specifically designed laser-cut plexiglass.

Inspired by different objects found in the Bloemfontein urban environment, in contrast to the well-known rural Free State landscape, each object represents a memory and moment in time. Exploring themes of creating “time capsules”, reviewing our idea of landscape art, and more obviously reflecting on how addictive the collecting process is to Ilse.



All the wings are from Elrie Joubert’s childhood butterfly collection (one of the first things she ever collected and linked with endless childhood memories). Proof of passing of time is evident as Dermestidae insects destroyed most of the collection. The fragility of life, the inevitability of death, and the living endeavours that continue regardless become apparent in how Elrie desperately attempts to preserve what is left of the delicate collection.

Meet the artists

Elri Joubert

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