2009-2013: Completed a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) in Johannesburg. The thesis was titled:
South African Taxi Hand Signs. Documenting the History and Significance of Taxi hand signs through Anthropology and Art, including the invention of a Tactile Shape-language for Blind people.
2000-2004: Completed a Master of Technology in Fine Arts (cum laude) at Wits Technicon. Titled: The Conceptual and Practical Realisation of a Corporate Art Commission,
The artwork Mobile City is a 5 story high, 3 Ton aluminium installation. It rotates and moves up and down in Absa Bank, Towers North, Johannesburg.
1967-1971: Four years Fine Art Teachers Diploma, at the Johannesburg School of Art and Ballet (Later became Wits Technicon).
Standard 9 and Matric were completed 1966 and 1967 at the Johannesburg School of Art and Ballet. Attended Hyde Park High School and began junior school at Redhill from age 5.
EARLY TO LATER ART WORK RECORDED FROM 1992[i]
1992: Solo Exhibition, Karen Mckerron Gallery, Crisis, Johannesburg.
1992: Exhibited at Newtown Gallery, Springs Arts Festival, Johannesburg.
1993: Solo Exhibition Hostel Crisis, Carter Presidential Center, Atlanta. Woolf’s artworks on Hostels and Crises in South Africa were exhibited at the Carter Presidential Center. Former USA President Jimmy Carter and Bill Campbell (then Mayor of Atlanta) invited Woolf to bring an exhibition of South African Art to Atlanta during the Cultural Olympiad as part of the 1996 Olympic Games.
1994: Solo art exhibition, Sanlam Bellville Art Gallery, Cape Town. Sanlam acquired an artwork from the woman series.
1994: Exhibition, Metropolitan Life Gallery, Cape Town.
1996-7: Woolf was the Project Director of South African Art to Atlanta, Common & Uncommon Ground. Opened in the City Gallery East (Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs) during the Cultural Olympiad, 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. The Curator was Steven Sack and Co-Director artist Lesley Ann Price. It included the Paper Prayers for Aids project from the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Forty-three South African artworks were exhibited for three months. The Exhibition was used by the main sponsor Daimler-Benz, as their Olympic Project.
1996–1997: Exhibition “Condition/Response” At Simmons Visual Arts
Center of Brenau University. Atlanta.
1996–1997: Solo Exhibition, Towards Mandela at the King Plow Art Center, Atlanta. Invited by Leadership Atlanta of Fulton County and One Hundred Black Men, Woolf was simultaneously exhibiting at Brenau University for Woman in Atlanta.
1997: Exhibited at B’nai B’rith Klutznic National Jewish Museum, in Washington DC. The Potter, a composite of eight charcoal works, were on exhibit at the exhibition entitled Realm between Realms, Histories between Histories.
1997: Lifetimes South African Art in Munich, Germany. Curator: Ruth Sack.
1997: November 1997: Exhibited in Fifty Stories, at the top of the Carlton. A Johannesburg Biennale Fringe Exhibition. Curator: Storm Van Rensburg.
1997: Solo Exhibition in the Carlton Centre in the City Centre.
1997: Exhibited resin sculptures Towards Mandela in the Bannister Art Gallery of Rhode Island College in New York.
1997-1998: Solo Exhibition of the Healing Installation and Art Books in Museum Africa.
1996-1998: Woolf became involved in a low-cost housing project in Devland (Johannesburg). when she spent a year searching for a low-cost government subsidised house for her domestic worker and her three children. Woolf later supervised the extension of this one roomed ‘house’. Research and an awareness of obstacles faced by millions of people in SA to get a home resulted in the arts project titled Healing and thirty individually designed housing art books, which were exhibited in Museum Africa for six months. The community were involved in drinking the tea used in the artwork. Each teabag represented the hope of acquiring one house in the future. The Healing installation was being considered as a possible education instrument in 1997 by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York’s education facility.
1998: Exhibited in group exhibition Buttons, Civic Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
1998: Awarded a fellowship in New York through Jack Ginsburg and the Ampersand Foundation.
1998–1999: Created the Mobile City Installation for Absa Towers North Building. Woolf, Levin and Cawood designed the Mobile City for the North Atrium from 1998 to 2000, in a collaboration with engineers and fabricators. The Mobile City consists of 3 tons of aluminium. It is motorised, rotating and moving up and down five floors.
2000: Exhibited Is this your face? No! It is the face of your mother and father, at the Civic Art Gallery in Johannesburg together with recipients of the Ampersand Foundation Award (Residency in New York).
2000: Sculpture commission completed for the law firm Edward, Nathan & Friedland.
2002: Completed the Degree of Master of Technology in Fine Arts at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Titled The conceptual and practical realisation of a corporate art commission.
2002: Awarded “Best Presentation for a Research Project” by the TWR.
2003: Exhibited Mapping Generations with fellows of the Ampersand Foundation Award, at the Warren Siebrits Contemporary Gallery in Johannesburg. This artwork is made up of 2600 check-book stubs and an accompanying Artbook. Alongside it is a CD with a voice recording of a message from various family members going back to 1903.
2004: Developed a cubicula puzzle ‘Mind Block’. It is part of Mapping Generations, the circles represent life cycles. When completed the three-dimensional puzzle has 90 circles on 60 blocks. Every section of a slice of 16 blocks, in every direction has four circles.
2004: Exhibited a shadow sculpture entitled Table of Contents on an exhibition called Oppitafel at the Art Space Gallery in Fair. The shadow reads Table of Contents in Shorthand.
2005: Charcoal drawings were exhibited at the Mason Murer Gallery in Atlanta.
2006: Woman of Worth mural on exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Atlanta.
2008: At the Civic Art Gallery in Johannesburg. A maquette carved out of different woods for an outdoor sculpture. It is a design of a composite of eleven concrete sculptures, some several meters high, entitled Witness: Shadow of Ubuntu. In natural sunlight each ‘witness’ casts a shadow. They collectively read Ubuntu, throughout the year with the sun shining, every day, between 10 am and 11am. ‘Ubuntu’ is an Africanism for respect and friendship. A word that also carries with it expectations and the burden of responsibility.
2008: Participant in an art exhibition Mandela @ 90 at the South African Constitutional Court for Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday. Witness: Shadow of Ubuntu was included in the exhibit. Below Tata Madiba and Graca Machel listen to Woolf’s further explanation.
2008: Participated in a joint exhibition at the Thompson Art Gallery, Johannesburg.
Witness: Shadow of Ubuntu was included in the exhibit.
2008: Jacob’s Ladder solo exhibition at the Art Space gallery, Johannesburg.
2009: Museum Africa: Launch of the Taxi Hand Sign Book for the Blind. A tactile shape language designed for people who are blind, enabling them to read and use or know about all taxi signs.
2009: Participated in an exhibition at Kievets Kroon and Artspace, Parktown. Artworks were entitled Past Tense Future Perfect.
2010: South African Post Office launch at the Standard Bank Art Gallery of Taxi Hand Signs on the 2010 South African National Commemorative Stamp. The stamps were voted sixth amongst the first 10 most important stamps for 2010 by Stampnews.com
2010: The Taxi Hand Sign Booklet was also launched at the Standard Bank Art Gallery. It was the first official documentation of taxi hand signs in book form in South Africa.
2011–2012: Participated in a group exhibition entitled Talk to Me at the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) in New York with the artworks Taxi hand signs: Shape lingo for Blind people.
2011: Participated in an International Experiential Exhibition, in New Town Johannesburg entitled Dialogue in The Dark.
2013: Exhibition at WAM (Wits Art Museum). South African Taxi Hand Signs: Symbolic Landscapes of Public Culture. The visual Dictionary Grid below is the culmination of nine years research documenting the taxi signs, for sighted people and illustrated the development of the shape language for people who are blind.
2013: Exhibited in a group exhibition We Love Mandela at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London.
2013: Paintings on the Stephan Welz auction at the VNA (Victoria and Albert) waterfront.
2014: Exhibited at the exhibition We Love Mandela: In Memoriam. It was held at the Welz Studio, Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton.
2015: Participated in the Artists Proof Studio group exhibition at Absa Gallery, Johannesburg. Handmade paper artworks with beads and prints from the series The Other Side, were produced at Phumani Paper Mill at the University of Johannesburg and at Artists Proof Studio.
2016: Solo Exhibition. Taxi Hand Signs (extended).
SAJM South African Jewish Museum. Cape Town, for two months.
SIGNIFICATION Textareo [Lenth over 7 meters].
2016: FNB Johannesburg Art Fair. Contemporary African Art. Participated with Artist Proof Studio in their exhibition.
2017: Participated in Booknesses Colloquium: South African Book Arts Exhibition. Fada Gallery at the University of Johannesburg.
2017: Participated in Life on Paper: Prints from South Africa, Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Boston, USA.
2017: Participated in WORDS outdoor and indoor gallery exhibition. Nirox Farm. Cradle of Human Kind, Gauteng.
2018: Participated in a large sculpture exhibition at The Melrose Gallery in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.
2018: Invitation to exhibit at the Eighth International Society for Gesture. ISGS. Cape Town. The taxi gestures, films and a dictionary were part of the exhibition, showcasing the tactile shape system for people who are blind.
Background and Early Years to 1992
For the purpose of brevity this biography is detailed from Woolf’s first Solo exhibition in 1992.
Art had been an interest from a very early age. Married in 1970 to Ronald Woolf, Woolf took her first art teaching post in 1971 at Bonato Park High School. Later, figure drawing was taught at the Wits Technicon. For many years Woolf taught art to adults. In the main portraiture, figure drawing, abstraction and communication of ideas through the use of found objects. Woolf’s art lessons for children were correlated with music and drama. Woolf worked in the design and fine art field for amongst others, Russels, V & R, Bacos Brothers, Bennie Goldbergs (a painting [mural] of 15 meters long x 2 meters high), Edward Nathan and Friedland, Carl Schmitt, the Art Bank and Intersoft (book and video cover design).
Employed by Thompsons Publications for five years. Woolf’s artwork included the company’s year book covers, graphic design and advertising artwork in general.
Over the years companies and private individuals commissioned portraits and or large murals.
Woolf has continued with her varied, often long term, art projects and socio/political artwork throughout her life. All art projects have been fully documented and are available on individual Powerpoint presentations or film.
Woolf has exhibited in Atlanta, New York, and Washington in the USA, in Munich, London and Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria South Africa. Collections of her work are held in South Africa and the United States.