Tanya Katherine Poole was born in St John’s, Newfoundland in 1971. She grew up in Bahrain in the Middle East, England and South Africa. She lives with her artist husband, Nigel Mullins and their daughter, Sophie, in Grahamstown, South Africa.
Poole graduated with an MFA from Rhodes University in 1998. Trained primarily as a painter, she has also worked with video, performance, installation, theatre design and, most recently, paint animation.
Following the birth of her daughter in 2001, Poole found that she needed a new language for her art making process. Becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of both traditional painting and of video, she began experimenting with combining the two in the medium of animated painting, a technique ideally suited to the concepts she was exploring. She produced the work that earned her the joint First Prize in the 2004 Brett Kebble Art Awards. She was also awarded the Eastern Cape Premier’s Award for her contribution towards art in the Eastern Cape.
This was followed by Missing, a solo show of animated works funded by the Brett Kebble Art Awards at the Franchise Gallery in Johannesburg in 2005, which included the works Missing, Part, After you were gone andWait.
In 2006, Poole made Drift, an animated installation for the group showNew Painting, curated by Storm Janse van Rensburg. This was shown at the NSA in Durban, the UNISA gallery in Pretoria and at the Johannesburg National Art Gallery. She is currently working towards a solo show of three installations at the Bell-Roberts Gallery in Cape Town from the 2nd of May, 2007, and towards work which will appear in a group show in Mumbai, India, which is promoted by SA Tourism and curated by Suzette Bell-Roberts.
Poole has participated in group and solo exhibitions nationally and abroad. These include Soft Serve at the National Gallery, Cape Town (1999) and the Chicago Institute and SA Embassy’s Collection of South African Art in the USA (1996). In 2000 she exhibited with Nicholette Cross and Delphina in a group show, Three Women at Mattamondo at the Portobello Festival, Notting Hill, London. This was followed by ‘Rebellion and Uproar; the escape from Robben Island of Makana and the Eastern Frontier Rebels, 1820,’ at The Nelson Mandela Gateway complex, Robben Island Museum (2002), the 1829 Museum, Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Reykjavik, Iceland.
In 1998, Poole completed her Master’s submission, an exhibition in three parts with painting, video installation and performance. In January of 1999, Poole’s closest friend, Clare Keenan, survived a brutal attempted rape and murder. For nearly a year, they worked on Inner Site Violencetogether, an exhibition based on Keenan’s experience. This opened on International Women Against Violence Day in Cape Town, 1999, in the house that was the site of Keenan’s attack. Supported by the Canadian Government, the exhibition was seen in Pretoria and later in Grahamstown. Poole’s other solo exhibitions include Behind the Green Door(1996), Limnetic Zone (1998) and Bedtime Stories (2000).
Poole has coordinated and part taught the drawing programme at the Fine Art Department at Rhodes, judged and assessed scholar and student work. She was a selector for the Brett Kebble Art Awards in 2005. In 2004, she designed the set, props and costumes for Andrew Buckland’s award-winning production Fuse, which was performed at the SA National Arts Festival, Grahamstown and at the Edinburgh Festival where it won the Best of Fringe Award. She has worked with Juanita Finestone-Praeg on 37 Degrees of Fear, performed at The Dance Factory in Newtown, Johannesburg and has collaborated with Juanita Finestone-Praeg, Leonard Praeg, Dion van Niekerk, Acty Tang and the performers on 16 kinds of emptiness, a multi-media/physical theatre production in 2006 at the SA National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.
Poole is also a portraitist. She includes the formal portraits of Prof. Jakes Gerwel, advisor to Nelson Mandela and Chancellor of Rhodes University, and Dr David Woods, Vice Chancellor of Rhodes University in her portrait portfolio.