A painter from Port Elizabeth, Janine Every, has swapped her traditional art canvas for a large-format surface that is manufactured to her exact specifications. Over the past year, she has been experimenting with oils and acrylics on lightweight concrete, a unique polystyrene and concrete composite product manufactured by sustainable solutions company Rhino Group.
Cast in large slabs, Every’s naturally textured artworks cover a range of subjects from black-and-white portraits to wildlife and even colourful abstracts.

Her first lightweight concrete commission, and largest to date, was a 2,3m x 2m portrait, inspired by Antoinette Reinecke’s award-winning “Gogo” photograph. Since using lightweight concrete as her medium was the brainchild of Rhino Group managing director, Brian van Niekerk, the artwork now hangs in House Rhino, the group’s sustainable living showcase home located at Crossways Farm Village just outside Port Elizabeth.

Mixing architecture and art
As a building material, lightweight concrete is used for walling, where it assists with soundproofing and thermal insulation, and filling underfloor voids. Unlike regular concrete, which weighs in at a density of at least 1 500kg/m³, lightweight concrete has a density of just 300kg/m³ and contains a high percentage of recycled polystyrene, which would otherwise end up in landfills as it does not biodegrade.

“I love the texture of lightweight concrete. It adds a totally different dimension from what I can achieve on canvas,” says Every. “I can paint on it, drill into it with a pencil drill or build on top of it with wet concrete for a three-dimensional effect.”

The surface texture could also be cast according to preference and subject matter, whether it be smooth, cracked, woodgrain or more aerated.

“It’s even great for outdoor entertainment areas. Nobody would put a canvas outside, but lightweight concrete is extremely durable and it weathers well,” she adds.

A new identity
According to Every, working in this new medium has given her a unique identity. “I love that this is different. There are so many great artists around and I needed something that set me apart. Rhino Group is with me throughout the process – from casting the slabs to bolting them to my studio wall and finally installing the finished artwork in the client’s space,” she says.

Van Niekerk agrees that the partnership had been a perfect fit from the outset. “Initially, we were just looking at doing wall cladding, but Janine’s incredible talent has showcased the diversity of lightweight concrete as both a structural and decorative product.”

Growing regard
Since exhibiting a few pieces at Port Elizabeth venues like The Friendly Stranger and Grass Roof restaurants, Every has received a steady stream of commissions from private and corporate clients looking to add a rustic modern finish to their spaces, with one of her works even sent abroad to Germany.

Rhino Group
Tel: 041 451 3197
Website: www.rhinogroupsa.co.za

Caption main image:
Artist Janine Every at work on her latest commission – a 3m lightweight concrete installation that straddles the boundary between structural and decorative art.