11 August 2021 | Story Dr Cindé Greyling | Photo Supplied
Art lover Prof Janine Allen-Spies

Prof Janine Allen-Spies is an artist, lecturer in Fine Arts, and image philosopher from the UFS Department of Fine Arts. She teaches painting, drawing, and conceptual art to pre-graduate students and supervises postgraduate students in Fine Arts and other creative practices. In 2020, she was awarded the Stals Prize for her valuable role as a visual artist, academic, mentor, lecturer, activist, and supporter of art. 

What is the best thing about your job?
Working with artists and students who are energetic and passionate and love talking about art. 

What is the best and worst decision you have ever made?
As a second-year Art student, I modelled a psychedelic-looking bikini at a vintage clothing fashion show. Still makes me cringe! The best decisions weren’t really mine – they were godly interventions, so I can't claim them.

What was/is the biggest challenge of your career?
The biggest challenge is to make art. Even in the best circumstances, artmaking is ecstasy and agony. My biggest challenge as a mom is that I have two teenagers at home – working with students doesn't mean you know anything about younger teenagers.

What does the word woman mean to you?
As one of six sisters, I learnt that ‘woman’ implies diversity. We are all entirely different. Luckily, I don't have any preconceived ideas; all people should strive to be full-bodied human beings.

Which woman inspires you, and why?
Hypatia of Alexandria, Emily Hobhouse, Frida Kahlo, Princess Diana, and Caster Semenya – all women who do not fit into any mould. I am also inspired by my friends and my sisters and a lot of other local women.

What advice would you give to the 15-year-old you?
Make more of an effort to not grow up! Enjoy the beach, because one day you will not live close by. Your body is your own to take responsibility for and to love. Be strict with boyfriends and learn how and when to end a relationship, because nobody teaches you that.

What is the one self-care thing that you do? 
At the moment, the selfcare thing is visiting Nick, the hairdresser of Bella Donna who can fix, colour, and cut my hair, because managing my hair myself is just impossible.

What makes you a woman of quality, impact, and care?
I try to be self-reflective. To forgive and to be accepting are very important; we all have our fault lines, and we should work with each other's shortcomings. 
I cannot live without … coffee and ‘my’ psychologist.
My secret weapon is … honesty, and if my honesty fails, it will be having a Plan B.
I always have … fashion clothing items, even if I must make or alter clothing myself. My grandmother was a seamstress and we learnt to love clothing design.
I will never … again take the Free State landscape for granted.
I hope … poverty in the country will be addressed aggressively and in a more directed manner – which 
includes active participation and engagement of all people in South Africa.

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful. To better understand how they are used, read more about the UFS cookie policy. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.