Hello Ladies & Gentlemen, and welcome to Claude.
There are still some seats open in front here and trust you have your choice of beverage ready in-hand before we start the show in a few minutes.
Ok, just kidding around! I have been an MC before, and the introduction to what is ultimately going to be stories told through art seemed all too tempting not to place me on stage (figuratively) with red lips and blinding lights.
My name is Claudia Liebenberg. I am the artist behind the pictures and the pen behind the stories that are to follow. But saying it all originates from me, would be horribly short-sighted and not honouring from whom and where I come from. Come climb up this tree with me for a brief retelling of the giants that were and are still.
I am the daughter of a wild-child black-haired engine-loving motorhead and his tiny, classy, style-icon beauty who carries a heart the size of Joan’s Ark. I was named after my Grandfather, Claude (yes, this is who I named the art brand after). He in turn, was the tattooed former dance instructor who practiced carpentry and was married to a long-legged blonde seamstress who reminded me of Grace Kelly. Her fashion design and influence still graces my shoulders or carries my lipstick. She always created, and some of my fondest childhood memories involve her showing me her ropes with my podgy-kid fingers.
Growing up Liebenberg meant no half measures. Not in the engine sizes of the classic muscle cars or motorcycles parked around me, and definitely not in the quality of care that was taken in our themed birthday parties or the lunches we were lovingly served by mom after surviving a day at school (this is where the “applause” sign is held up for you:))
My father knows how to fight, to not back down and when to walk away. He embodies the story of an underdog. My mother is beautiful. No biased opinion there. But what is even more stellar than her garland of outer beauty, is the belief that what a woman is on the inside far outweighs the value of what expires on the outside. Meet her, you’ll see. Whether we had little, enough or much, the best was made with what we had and what we were given. So growing up Liebenberg meant using what you have been given, to make more, in the best way.
These two mammoth figures are artists in their own right. Both expressed their seeded talent on the platforms they were given. My father used to do American inspired art on cars and trucks, because, well, he wants to be a cowboy baby. Kidding again:) my old man will appreciate that one. My mom expresses herself in and around the house, from plating of food as a host (I know of few to this day, who can host like her. Not only is your belly full, but your heart also) to the artful application of all things feminine. I picked up on this, very early. Drawing, painting and creating was and is where I come alive. Its where all my contrasts come together in one focus. Oh how my heart is happy just at the writing of that latter sentence, and has aided me in figuring out what my place is in this world and where exactly I come from.
So back to Claude. The names means “overcomer”. Fancy that. Following here after in the flowering of this art brand, it will plainly or intricately encourage or challenge you to overcome. That is my hope, at least. That is my aim. That is the meaning of my name. As a Christian, that word has been the banner that has kept me in pushing through some rough terrain, reminded me who I am, Who is in me and that though I am very far from perfect, I can walk through where I am with a lesson learnt tucked in my back pocket that will inspire a piece of artwork soon enough. May our battle scars be gloriously humble retellings of the artworks that we are.
So indeed welcome to the show. Welcome to the branching out and deepening of roots based on a place we’d all like to call home. Home is where the heart is, home is where the art is.