Artist's Statement

These are landscapes in which my sense of aloneness prevails. I puzzle over the idea of landscape art, painfully aware of its loaded history. Those burdens of acquisition and dominance are always with me and so for a moment I sought a state free of these ideals and agendas. These drawings are an escape, a simple search for a state intrinsic to everyone.

I am always looking for the horizon. Landscape can mean many things to me, but being immersed in a vast and pristine landscape allows me to feel alone and aloneness has become a rare and undervalued state. James Howell wrote in his letters "I am never less alone, than when I am alone". In these drawings there are no signs of human interference. Different landscapes provoke different responses in me and once again, there is a distinction between tropical and arid places. The humid east coast environment is tumultuous and boisterous- it can afford to take risks. The Karoo and the central parts of South Africa have a quiet drama- vast and cautious. The Karoo is risk averse, a mirror of a more introspective aloneness.

I stumbled upon a narrow band of this feeling while making these drawings. It was a point in the drawing of these landscapes when I momentarily captured that simple feeling of being alone. It may be entirely in my imagination, but a couple of marks either side of this narrow band meant that the feeling was lost to me. Each drawing started off quite specifically as a place I had been to and quickly became a kind of automatic drawing, as if the drawing was emerging from the paper as the charcoal passed over. Each plant or hill was like a bump in my consciousness; a slightly tall upright bush had an entirely different feeling from a round, dissolving one. Crowded bushes generated a feeling unlike that of a bush standing alone.

One of the stimuli that resulted in me bolting for this cocoon was the possibility of fracking in this environment.  The potentially violent intrusion of this stillness made the drawing process feel like writing a love-letter to someone who was going to war. As an extension of this, the intrusion on delicate balances within our minds and bodies, echoed in our broader environment, is a continuous thread in my work.

The charcoal medium supports this feeling of fleeting and delicate balance. It is a sensitive medium and one brush of a finger can change it completely. Also, it is like the affinity between watercolour paint and painting water. The Karoo landscape has all the elements of charcoal; woody, dusty, hard and soft bits, caused by the seasons through which the plant lived.

Karin Daymond, July 2012