Notes for walk about

Unfolding her
Ava 2015

Thank you for joining us in discussion of this exhibition. I would like to give you some information and context then I am happy to have a conversation about specific pieces if you have comments or questions. The catalogue is an integral part of the exhibition; I have not given individual titles to the images.

Context; I am artist making art in Africa. This means that I am physically involved with making work in my community; it is a life style and constant preoccupation.

I am part of a tradition of painting and cloth that feels as if it will be everlasting and goes back a long way in the history, as we know it. In the vastness of colour, the floating shapes and lines there is always a reference to here and now.

For example in the DVD we are brought into now by the fall of the silk.

This exhibition opened on the eve of freedom day;

This was synchronistic and indeed appropriate. Making images is the place where I am free.

Reference to an essay by Mongane Wolly Serote; he is an elderly family friend.

“I know a generation after me will perhaps be witness to a moment when art from my country will be free from being “black art’ or “township art” or “tribal art” or craft. But this can only happen when Africans themselves free it and themselves… it is when this art contributes to liberation, to a rebellion, to a reawakening of the Africa, and when the African claims and freely creates an art that expresses this freedom, that art will be liberated” (1999 museum of African art New York.)

Please consider visiting other solo show sin cape Town that re up now.

My work is made with various materials, matter that is physical and creates references to place, touch, memory… liberating the spirit from matter so that it can communicate. In previous show when I explained the concept of the “sefi.”


A canvas is a cloth as is a piece of paper.

Chris Spring quotes El Anatsui in his latest book, African textiles today;

“You know you can memorialise a lot of things in cloth instead of having a statue in bronze or marble; in fact, these days cloth is loaded with so much meaning that it is rare to go to a cloth market, for instance, and find a cloth which does not have a name. And the name is not something that has come out of the blue, it is something tied to that place or a person or an event that, when it is mentioned, you know what is being referred to- it’s something in the environment. “

Two points or clues to referencing work given on two kanga cloths from Kenya

“Welcome stranger” and “you know nothing”. Kiswahili

This is an approach I like to have with my work and myself. It helps to loosen or even free myself from assumptions and preconceptions.

When I “muse” and find ideas while working that click into the images, I dance with the image so that a visual literacy is found and communicated.

I have had time over the past few years to sit quietly and I felt ready to give attention to the feminine principle; this is not gender based at all as the feminine floats with us in the matrix of life and needs to be encouraged to play a more prominent role.

In this work I am looking at an internal softening. It came together in loops not process or intention; I saw the connections, the fascia tissue months into the making and two and a half years later saw that it was a body of work that could be installed as an exhibition. My friend Anthony and I put it up in a day and nothing wanted to go home or be replaced!!

I work alone and with others. The relationship between the personal and the collective is significant. (Ingrid De Kok writes about this in her poetry and reflects on the tensions this addresses especially as we process our history.)

Seeking the feminine I found the little girl person, the maiden, mother, madam, matriarch, crone, some animal some human. The light of dawn, young light, is with us before the sun comes and pushes the day into being present. This is a daily physical process, a rite of passage.

In the catalogue I write about the silk from a cocoon, the skin from a snake. These are all metanarratives that talk to me while working but are not readily evident in the art work. I found a floating upside down cat embroided in a blue space; I look for the cat in the constellations at night. When I paint I smell the crickets behind the waterfalls on the mountain; they are dressed in the perfume of geraniums. The chorus of frogs, are at ease as I walk past and listen attentive to their singing as the moon rises from their mushed up leaf beds; The music of the mountain at night. Greeting MA in a shudder of nature; can go well, can go well say the frogs.

I look back and move forward at the same time. I work on several pieces at the same time. It brings a presence, not an agenda or name or issue.

I find in this work a floating of surface which is a strengthening of purpose but know that I will revert or extend or somehow find a way to play this out in another way. Loosening the familiar opens up but looks for new ways of describing.

Modernist constructs still guide me in that the structure, intelligence, line, mark, scale, format, surface, shape, colour are of primary significance. The work needs to be autonomous, hold its own, like a piece of music or a book. The maker is only here to give it context perhaps and find answers to questions where possible.


Innana myth. Salome, the seven veils. Veils of Medusa.
Redemption of the feminine; from Jung
National geographic; Halla Fels, from Eithiopia. Verna hertzhog, the cave of forgotten dreams.
Making art in Africa. Polly savage.
Caves of silk….?


PS; this is not what happened on the day!