Illustrator, Animator, Director: Shy the Sun Productions

Ree Treweek

Growing up on a small farm just outside Kokstad, Ree Treweek was enthralled by tales about a local witchdoctor called Khotsa. It was said that he had control of a powerful river spirit who took the form of a half-woman, half-snake. “The stories of Khotsa blurred my boundaries between myth, fantasy and reality. They still remain rather blurry to this day,” she says. Drawing on an abundant imagination, Treweek combines traditional artwork and folklore from around the globe with modern aesthetics and ideas. The results are award-winning illustrations and animations that are fantastical, dark, and always beautifully detailed. Over the past decade her work has helped to bring global recognition for South Africa’s animation industry. At 23, and having received a Fine Arts diploma from the Durban University of Technology, Treweek moved to Cape Town and began a career as an artist. She dabbled in illustration, puppetry and animation, started working part-time with several artists and co-founded the Blackheart Gang (BHG). The members of the group spent nine months teaching themselves how to animate and put together the music video Ringo. Her work on the video received international recognition, and she and BHG were invited to Australia to exhibit during the Commonwealth Games. They presented a short film, titled The Tale of How, which received a staggering 12 awards in the course of 2007. Treweek continues to work with BHG and has since co-founded Shy the Sun Productions, of which she is a director. Her efforts have won her and the two groups many awards, including several Loeries. She has produced three books and is currently working with BHG on her fourth, The Mole Bear Wars, which takes place in a world below our own, where dreams and magic take shape.

— Billy Rivers