Opening 11 June at Gallery 2 in Johannesburg is a joint show with Jaco van Schalkwyk and Delene Human. The exhibition is called Passage and has allowed me to pursue the idea of ‘belonging’ and ‘landscape’ even further. I am still feeling strongly, the tug and vocabulary of my 2014 exhibition called Welcome Stranger and an extract from my artist’s statement best describes this.
“Migration is pervasive. Out of necessity, it often happens quietly. In these works, the refugees leave silent traces of their journey through water, sand and mountains. I asked myself what I would take if I had to leave, and I saw that African women take fabric. With it around her, a woman can seem regal and even happy. She might even feel these things. These flashes of colour push back despair; they conceal and express at the same time.”
In some of the new work, the fabric is still present and in others there are other subtle signs that people have passed through the landscape.
Two contrasting travel adventures have also made their mark on my work. In January we drove all the way across the country to install our eldest at the University of Cape Town. Then we had to leave him…but the compensation was travelling back and spending time in the Karoo. Those of you who know my past work are familiar with the impact that this vast and barren space has on me. Expect to see more of this.
Also influencing my work is a recent trip to Seychelles. We are sea people, with James being inclined to the scientific and me towards the colours and patterns. This makes us a good team and we spent a month immersing ourselves in the life of the coral reefs. If you ever need to know the whereabouts of the pair of Maypole Butterfly fish on Anse Patates, I can help you out! At night I dreamt of the snap, crackle and pop sound that one hears in the water around coral reefs, and my breathing seemed synced with the gentle rise and fall of the water.
Turns out my growing sense of urgency about seeing the coral reefs again was not unfounded. During our stay we saw the coral bleaching getting worse by the day. Iconic coral heads quickly turned from a vivid mauve to an eerie white. The algae that live symbiotically in the coral die when the sea temperature gets too high, hence the lack of colour. On a lighter note, I did get some puzzled looks on the beach. I dragged all my favourite fabrics with me to Seychelles, planning to take reference pictures of it floating serenely in the silky water. This is not as easy as it sounds and the reality was near-drowning as we wrestled with the waves, the GoPro and marauding fish. All in a day’s work!
Please keep an eye on my Facebook page and website for more images and updates. An invitation to “Passage” at Gallery 2 in Parkwood, Johannesburg will follow soon.