Homage 2023

The landscapes of South Africa are still wild enough to be magical. They are the kind of places that inspire reverence, in whatever form one chooses. The act of looking, feeling and making is one of paying homage. I want my work to carry the feeling of the life in the land; the curious little cool spots that nurture strange, endemic plants, and the possibility of discoveries that reveal things we did not know, the echo of patterns in the microscopic and the macroscopic. I can’t paint that kind of detail, but I can suggest that it is there – ill­­usions that reveal biological truth.

There is a strange duality to this - examining places with an artist’s eye (witnessing the tiny things, identifying patterns, pondering each colour) while at the same time, painting myself out of the picture*.  Of course, I am invested in every mark, measuring the pulse of something fragile and pausing with it to take a deep breath, witnessing. Our experiences of landscape are intimations of both our significance and our insignificance – an idea that is increasingly percolating to the surface of our consciousness.

The title of this exhibition comes from the painting Homage, inspired by a place where endemic cycads grow in the dense vegetation of koppies that rise out of an endless sea of Mopani trees. There are gaping holes in the ground where poachers have dug out these ancient plants, a crime in the same class as rhino poaching. I painted cycad leaves in the rock in the foreground, embedded like fossils, an attempt at a record of sorts. 

*I recently heard artist Corey Hardeman use this phrase and I couldn’t resist borrowing it.