I have always been interested in land. Since childhood I have wanted to climb to the highest point to get a bird’s eye view of the lie of the land. My paintings attempt to capture the spirit of a place, and so raise our awareness of the South African landscape as a place of beauty and strife. The possession of land is central to much of our identity, and land is like a canvas on which people can make their mark.
The shelters we make, the barriers we erect, the lines we plough, tell us a lot about our relationship with the land and about our relationships with each other. As a white South African woman born into the fraught and sterile world of apartheid South Africa, my paintings are my way of understanding my belonging. The title “Position in Space” is a term used by occupational therapists and is described as the sense of where one is relative to the environment one is in.
I am drawn to the landscape of the centre of the country, particularly the Free State. This is a reserved and polarised place, with its sad social boundaries starkly evident in the landscape. Fences define present-day spaces, stone circles and old corbelled huts indicate past settlements. Clusters of brooding eucalyptus trees signal a particular era of possession of the land. These signs are so close to the surface in this part of the country and for me they are the perfect vehicle for exploring our brittle and fragile coexistence.
The quiet grandeur of Karin Daymond's landscapes relies on her mastery of paint and the mastering of her ego. Illusionistic landscapes tend to draw attention to the skill of the artist and the clever games involved in trompe l'oeil. Such sleight of hand reminds one of Creationism, with the artist as Prime Mover, the 'intelligent design' of the hand unfathomable by the viewer. Daymond's paintings evolve, and she discloses to the viewer the means by which she allows them to happen. There is a layer of volcanic rock, the comb of a stubble field, the broccoli-like flowering of forest trees seen from above. She innately appreciates how the earth was laid down from a scientific perspective, and the paint she uses follows the same logic. We see how scumbling, and glazing, combing and impasto all become metaphors for the evolutionary process. We also see how people, beautifully evoked by their absence, and animals are also part of the process, leaving behind their baggage, the evidence of their passing through time and space, like sgraffiti on a rock. A bundle of rags in the corner of a roofless stone hut catches our attention. Who does it belong to? Are we to take comfort from the sun at the door? No matter. This vagrant is as valid as clouds and grasses and dying fish; part of the endless wave. So too, is the farm, a dark blur beneath the trees in the middle distance, and the broken fence before us. We jump to our all-too-South-African conclusions in the way that we fill the blanks of silence in Hopper's work. Yet again, the huge skies and the waving grass remind us of the endless cycle of growth and decay. There is something very comforting about Daymond's work because it reminds us of our place in time and space- small, but not insignificant, and because she allows her creative process to be set so securely in the honesty of paint, and brushstroke. We understand the means by which she achieves her effects as if we were interested co-voyagers on the Beagle, listening to Darwin.