Town Planning

Makeshift dwellings interspersed with organised structures as far as the eye could see. This has worked its way into my painting. I have never been to a refugee camp in the desert, but I often try to wrap my head around the broad concept of being homeless and anonymous, and so I project myself into these situations. In the midst of the bigger picture, some things must happen for life to continue; washing is done, trading happens and children play. Looking at these new ‘towns’, it is possible to see two things evolving simultaneously. The bigger grid, straight lines and wide thoroughfares are established by large organisations and punctuated by permanent structures. Then there are the more organic shapes made by small roads and footpaths, ground worn down by people accessing smaller businesses, informal traders, hairdressers, people connecting in a real way, out of necessity, under the most dire circumstances.

The pieces of fabric that appear in many of my paintings reference this. I asked myself what I would take if I had to leave, and I saw that African women take fabric. I scattered my collection of African fabrics on the floor and painted them as if lost at sea. Every cloth is regional and has meaning. 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. Perhaps because I am not an active participant in these situations, the paintings have a sense of hovering above, a suspension of the nitty gritty in favour of a distant view. A reality that is impossible to internalise becomes an image that slowly allows me to come to terms with more. Each brush mark helps to build a picture. My small hope is that the viewer of the painting feels this too.