Meet rising crypto art star, Danny Attfield

Last week, our series of profiles on local artists introduced woodturner Shaen Adey. This week we’ve got a few questions for the equally talented and highly unassuming Danny Attfield, who is building a formidable international reputation among fans and (very) serious crypto art collectors.

When did it all start?
In 2014, when I got my first drawing tablet. Back then, however, I preferred drawing by hand because I felt disconnected using the tablet. That changed when I got an iPad Pro in 2018. I started drawing digitally almost full time because it’s a much more intuitive process. I officially started with crypto art at the end of 2018, but only became active last year when I saw a notification for a bid on one of my artworks. 

Can you recall your first sale?
I think I made my first sale at the end of 2018. It wasn’t for a huge amount of money, but I remember being excited anyway!

At what point did you realise your career was really taking off?
Last year, when I released 10 editions of my artwork and they all sold out within an hour. Not long after that, they sold out within minutes.

Who was the first serious collector to buy your work?
I’ve had a few, but one of them is a very famous collector called WhaleShark. He founded a cryptocurrency called $WHALE, which is backed by the artworks he collects, including some of mine. He’s never sold any of them.

You enjoy seeing your name associated with various events and shows in different parts of the world. Can you name any countries where you have made a particularly strong impression?
I have collectors from all over, so I suppose I’ve made an impression to a certain – very small – extent in many countries. But mostly in Sydney, Australia, where my artwork was used to promote an exhibition. There were posters with my work all over the city, which I found incredibly exciting.

Where do you find your inspiration?
Mostly from plants and animals.  Living in Marina Da Gama is incredibly inspiring.  There is so much natural life and beauty all around us. I usually draw as an idea comes to mind and try not to plan too far in advance, otherwise I give myself a block because I overthink.

Could you talk to us about some of the artists you particularly admire?
I admire many digital artists, as well as other crypto artists. I see incredible art all over the internet, which always motivates me to be better and try harder. Some of my favourite crypto artists include Kristy Glas, Adam Fryda, Shelly Soneja, Caroline Dy and Charles Grant. You can find all of them on Twitter.

What about old school artists? Do you have any favourites?
Again,I have many favourites, but especially Chris Riddell and Kerby Rosanes, both of whom are illustrators focusing on line art.

One of the most uplifting aspects of your very uplifting story is the way you are using your success as an artist to help make life a little better for less privileged people, animals and the environment. Perhaps you could tell us about some of the causes you support.
I have donated to a programme run that feeds dogs in Vrygrond. I have also given money to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Seabirds, or SANCCOB.  I’ve donated artworks that have been or will be auctioned off to raise money for various causes. They include an artwork to raise funds for a little girl who is fighting cancer and an artwork for an organisation which supports underprivileged children. I plan to plant trees in the Marina. Recently, I released a collaboration between myself and a company called Hitch, which will offset a lifetime’s worth of CO2 by protecting forests and planting mangrove trees in Madagascar.

What criteria do you use when deciding whether to support an initiative or cause?
Previously, I just said yes to almost everything, but now I’m realising that I can’t commit to all the projects people offer me. I’ll usually accept if they are for a good cause.

Digital artist. Crypto artist. What’s the difference?
A digital artists uses computers, iPads and other technology to create their artworks. A crypto artist uploads their artworks onto the Blockchain. Their artwork is normally digital, but there’s no limit and it could be anything.

Finally, what’s your main ambition as a crypto artist?
To be able to survive as an artist and do as much as I can for the community and the environment. I believe we all have an obligation to help where we can.  

See more, read more, hear more
A Google search for Danny will throw up almost 75,000 results. We’ve narrowed the choice down to her Twitter account, where you can view her images; a highly engaging podcast she recorded through the Whale Community; and a fascinating article that argues, with some conviction, that Danny is rewriting history.

(2) Media Tweets by Daniella Attfield 💯 (@DaniellaDoodles) / Twitter

NFT Artist Fireside Chat w/ HeatherHz & Artist Daniella Attfield – YouTube

Crypto Artist Daniella Attfield Rewrites History Through NFTs – BeInCrypto

Shaen celebrates the raw beauty of wood

The Marina is home to a rich seam of artistic talent that deserves wider exposure – and we are happy to oblige. We recently caught up with Eastlake Island resident Shaen Adey, who has spent the last five years honing her skills as a woodturner with some very impressive results.

Born and raised on a farm in KwaZulu-Natal, Shaen – who moved to the Marina 12 years ago – started her working life in conservation and wildlife photography, which she successfully combined with writing for many years. But ever since childhood, her first passion has been wood. “My father had all the tools, which I used to teach myself how to carve wood. It’s an interest that has never left me.” Around five years ago, Shaen took the plunge and decided to devote more time to her childhood passion.

Her journey as a professional woodturner started when she attended the re-opening of the Blue Shed arts and crafts market at the V&A Waterfront. Here, she met Bert Parker, widely respected as one of South Africa’s leading woodturners. Now 90, Bert advised Shaen to join the Western Cape Woodturners Association (WCWA), which is based in, appropriately enough, Pinelands. With the help of the club’s highly supportive woodturning community, she quickly mastered the basics.

These days, Shaen divides her working hours between her home in Eastlake Island and her studio, which stands on the banks of the vlei with spectacular views north towards Table Mountain. “This is my happy place,” she comments, surrounded by the tools of her trade and the finished and half-finished wood pieces she refers to as her ‘friends’.

The beauty of Shaen’s work speaks for itself. Her pieces range from pens and pepper grinders to large bowls and non-functional pieces that are simply a no-apology celebration of wood’s raw beauty. Functional or not, each piece invites us to rediscover the fascinating aesthetics and physical versatility of an indispensable material that so many of us take for granted. So where does she find her inspiration? “In the wood,” she says. “Each unturned piece tells me what it will become.”

Inevitably, the pandemic has made it more difficult for Shaen to share her work with a wider audience. But in the October before last, she hunkered down in her studio for the entire month and emerged with a collection of work entitled 30 Things In 30 Days. Alerted by word of mouth, the visitors who were fortunate enough to see the collection were overwhelmingly impressed. “The response,” says Shaen’ “was fantastic!” With that success under her belt, Shaen is working towards her follow-up exhibition  as she continues to attract a growing customer base.

It includes fellow Eastlake island resident, Eve Watson, who commissioned Shaen to make two pepper grinders. Commenting on her pieces, Eve says: “Loving wood and knowing that Shaen had a studio, I decided to commission her to make some pepper grinders. One was crafted from an interesting piece of Norfolk pine, with the typical signature knots dotting the surface. It made the perfect engagement gift for my daughter. And my piece? Exquisite! Shaen made it even more personal and fascinating by involving me in the entire process – from choosing the raw chunk of cork oak to watching it being transformed into a beautiful, functional artwork. Seeing the various aspects of the complex production and listening to Shaen’s creative thought process was totally enthralling.”

Watch this space for more details of Shaen’s next exhibition. But for now, if you’d like to see more of her work and perhaps work with her at her studio to create your own commissioned piece, she’s happy for you contact her on shaenadey@gmail.com or 082 777 5088.

Instagram: touchwoodshaen

WCWA woodturning club in Pinelands contact: Chris Briers on chris.briers@uct.ac.za.

Quick Q&A with Shaen Adey

Favourite wood to turn? I don’t have one, I have several, especially if they’re burls. But I mainly work in wild olive, protea, and cork oak.

Favourite tool? My large gouge. It’s got weight behind it and just feels right in the hand.

First turned piece? Two pens. One went to a friend’s mother in Scotland and the other was my aunt’s 70th birthday present.

Favourite piece? Aah… A really large sphere turned from a bottlebrush root.  

Biggest inspiration and influence? Pinterest and YouTube. There’s just so much out there.

Woodturners you follow? Paul Kristafor, Pascal Oudet, Rodney Band and Mike Shuler.

Advice to beginners? Join our club. It’s well equipped and has a number of  brilliant woodturners who are more than happy to pass on their skills.

Most valuable lesson? Safety, safety, safety! Gloves, dust mask and eye protection. I almost lost a finger once.

Ultimate woodturning ambition? To have a piece selected for The Daniel Collection.

Doing our bit to save hope from the ashes

Valerie Benson, ExCom member and Uitsig resident, recalls how she joined Marina neighbour Jill Rumbelow to help salvage library books following the recent UCT fire.

The fires on Table Mountain on 18 April have significantly damaged our mountain and also various buildings at UCT including the Jagger Library.

Ten days later, Jill Rumbelow, a fellow Uitsig Peninsula resident, and I decided to sign up to help recover books and manuscripts from the library. Jill worked at UCT for many years and I did my undergraduate degree there. It was the first time that I have been back on this campus since 1991. We shared some of our UCT stories. Mine involved the Purple Rain protest.

We kitted ourselves out in old clothes and closed shoes, parked on campus and made our way to the tent to give our personal details, and to put on hard hats, medical masks and surgical gloves. We weren’t sure if the gloves were for our protection or to protect the books from us. There were about 40 people in our group. Some were volunteers, some were UCT staff and others were students.

After a safety lecture, we headed down to the library and were asked to form a human chain down the passageways of the library. Behind a partially boarded section, I could see workers in hard hats shoveling ash and rubble into wheelbarrows to be taken away. It wasn’t a pretty sight to see and showed that this was just the very beginning start of a massive project. The inside of the section of the library we were in had fire damaged walls, tarpaulins covering book cabinets and hanging electrical wires, hopefully switched off.

Our job was to pass crates of books to the person standing next to us and along the human chain of people in the passageways and out of the library doors. We also brought in empty crates and passed those down the human chain to those at the bottom levels who were loading the books into the crates. Some crates were full of books, some only contained one book and we hoped it was a very rare book to be in its own crate. I saw Dr Doolittle, Alice in Wonderland among others and hoped they were rare editions.

The camaraderie amongst the volunteers was amazing as it often is when Capetonians work together to achieve a community-orientated objective. People shared their experiences of seeing the fire, where they were when it started, and how they thought the fire had spread. Everyone listened avidly and nodded or shook their heads in agreement or disbelief.

Jill and I left after our shift, tired but feeling we had helped in some small way.

Volunteers are still urgently needed, so please do sign up to help using http://www.lib.uct.ac.za/jagger-recovery

It was tiring but I was, surprisingly, not stiff the day after our shift. It will be several weeks, if not months, before this recovery process is completed. Our team leader was saying that experienced artisans are desperately needed to handle the rarer items especially those in waterlogged areas of the library. Go on, please sign up!