Monoprinting is an absorbing process. Relinquishing some of the control that I have at an easel with a brush in my hand, I found a new way of capturing the themes that occur in my paintings. I find the process is the perfect match for the idea that we are subject to the forces of nature and that our existence is not as permanent as we may think.
Each time I put a collection of work together I find I have visited three different environments. These environments are real places, but they also reflect my inner landscape. The Lowveld, the place where I live, is a fairly gentle environment, a landscape of plenty from which images like “Secretive” come. It’s intriguing and colourfully overgrown. Moving east towards the coast and the Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia the environment is fragile and exposed. There is a delicate balance between water, sand, wind and plant growth in the nutrient–poor ground. It has the feeling of a primordial environment and walking through those pans I expected to find a perfectly preserved coelacanth fossil in the ancient seabed that I was tramping on. Human activity has left its mark too. During the Iron Age, trees from the dune forests were used to make charcoal for iron smelting and the forests were replaced by grasslands. Recently, forestry plantations have been cleared and some stubborn, indigenous trees remain, severely battered by the elements in “Eastern Shores” and “Seabed”. In “Dune” that primordial feeling comes through. Some of these dunes are the tallest forested dunes in the world and have been shaped by the wind for thousands of years.
Working in layers, as one can in monoprinting, was a process akin to peeling back the layers of these landscapes. Similarly, rubbing and scratching into flat layers of ink in the “Free State” landscapes made me feel like a farmer working the land. In these prints I pushed the ink and paper, striving for thinner and paler layers to capture the quiet space of the Free State. Now I am back at my easel with a new sense of lightness in my brush.
All work for this exhibition was made in collaboration with The Artists' Press.