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Domestic Matters 2023-2024

Latuvu Art Gallery in Bages, France, and George Art Museum, George, SA (2023)
Upcoming exhibitions in Tina Skukan Art Gallery, Pretoria, Unisa Art Gallery and White River Art Gallery (2024)

My 2023 creative output, “Domestic matters”, consisted of seven works in a range of media. The work "Carry me softly" (2023), an acrylic and oil painting on shaped-format plywood, started the project. It was first exhibited in Bages, France at the “Rhizome” exhibition at the Latuvu Art Gallery (July 2023).  The work is reflected on the Latuvu price list. The work melancholically reflected on the relationship with my late husband and the gap his absence left on our household. In using the old work wooden table rising away from the rug with its wavy pattern, the work speaks both of belonging and loss.

Used as a springboard and poster for the October exhibition “Object”, the work was shown again at the George Museum.  Both group exhibitions were curated by Prof Elfriede Dreyer as shown on her CAP Institute for Contemporary Art website.  

Together with the six other works (mixed media on paper and canvas), which I created for “Object”, the visual research of “Domestic matters” investigated objects associated with home. “The mother” and “The father” (photographic works printed on Hahnemühle Paper) were an outcome of account of picking up a discarded scrubbing brush, which jolted memory of my mother polishing red cement floors. 

Considering the interaction between the weathered object and the gleaming polished floor, I documented the brush from angles that speak about negotiation and labor: looking down onto it, confronting it head-on or placing it lateral across the horizon, barring access. The works “History/ Herstory lessons in brushwork” and “Ode to all mothers” were created by scrubbing the paper until the brush found its way onto the page, thus allowing the object to actively work its way into the process and resulting artwork.  

In “Ode to all mothers" I poured a puddle of ink and water on a sheet of Fabriano paper, then gently scrubbed it into the paper, allowing it to dry overnight. The paper and drying process added its own movement and a suggestion of a surreal landscape seemed to beg for a star or floating object - an addition of the collaged brushes reflect an urchin-like or star-like quality, which became a symbol of vision with the object being both past-facing and future-facing. On researching the idea, I found the terminology of "recasting and pastcasting", in the article "Looking backward to the future: On past-facing approaches to futuring" by Roy Bendor, Elina Eriksson and Daniel Pargman (2021).  In applying the idea that one can recast memory to enable a future that places agency into one's own hands, the redrawing of home becomes important. “The Pont” and “Farmhouse” seek to draw links to environments that poetically spoke about floating and daydreaming, reflecting on the domestic experience of my childhood that carry conflicting emotions. 

A back operation in 2024 positioned me to think about bones, and how the structure can be rethought, and playfully re-imagined. What started as an image of a humble heap of mechanics that fail us (think of anatomy books that describe the body as "The human machine" by Bridgman), the experience shifted to ponder the medical knowledge to "bolt" things together and the body's incredible ability to grow new bone and restructure the old into something new.

In the weeks preceding a back operation and the healing weeks thereafter, the skeletal structure of the body and the spine of books became a focus. The insight for my understanding is that the past is not fixed, but more malleable than what I have imagined.  I am extending the theme retaining the realm of the domestic to the laboring body as a key for research in 2024, retaining the realm of the domestic to the laboring body. In working though "recasting" the awareness that over the years, the abundant release of the stress hormone, serotonin, probably contributed to the weakening of bone (a lament), I am imagining new 'bones' and that possibilities of a mobile body will become gradually real (empowered futuring). I use mapping symbols to think about fresh winds blowing movement into matter.  Whilst rekindling my love for anatomy studies, I also see the link to the weathered spines of drawing books and textbooks which have lost their backbone over the years but retained their place on my dozen domestic bookshelves. 

Credits for short video’s:
Ode to all mothers (2023). Short by Donna Rundle, sound: George’s Lament

References:

Bendor, R, Eriksson, E & Pargman, D. 2021. Looking backward to the future: On past-facing approaches to futuring, in Futures 125 (2021) 102666​. Elsevier.
Bridgman, GB. 1972. The human machine. The anatomical structure and mechanism of the human body. New York: Dover publication.

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