Current Work

“…boundaries between animals and human worlds are indistinct and fluid. This is a traditional African vision, but it is also something very modern that we are only beginning to understand in western countries. We are not masters of nature – we are part of it.
— McCall Smith, The Girl who Married a Lion. (1998)

 

Blindfold drawings

Using Indian ink and a large brush these images are drawn repeatedly with a tutored hand and then later with eyes closed, until the figure becomes a cipher. These gestural images resembling a type of calligraphy are then enlarged onto a board in a manner related to western technical drawing, by a series of grids. The resulting drawings are completed in tar with a large brush.

  • Closing the eyes releases the unconscious gesture and the underlying emotive aspects of the form.

  • Creates a personal calligraphy of cyphers - the replication of painting and repainting simplifies the sign in a Zen-like way until it is personalised.

Subject matter

Cyphers - I internalised the meaning of the Kunda matrilineal women’s initiation symbols and images, sometimes drawing them in pitch while blindfolded in order to release the unconscious gesture and the underlying emotional aspects of the form; at other times using a western grid to capture them with objective precision.

Leopards - A central Kunda story about a young woman attacked by a leopard and then killed by a man with an axe echoes many northern European folk tales like Little Red Riding Hood.

Forest - or wilderness - the metaphorical place in many stories of psychological change and life and death changes. 

Hyenas - a common Zambian belief is that they can transmute to humansSpirit lions - are bound up in beliefs of spirits of past chiefs

Spirit Lions - Since the 1800s Europeans in Central Africa have reported an association between lions and the spirit of deceased chiefs. In 1832 Gamitto, a Portuguese explorer in the Luangwa Valley noticed the Africans there being able to chase away lions from the animals they had killed and take the meat for themselves. Local Africans explained that this was possible because the lions were benevolent chief’s spirits.

Transformation figures - Archetypal stories of forests, wilderness, and carnivorous violent predators that attack young girls occurs across many cultures worldwide, including Luangwa, Zambia where I live, where the predator is a leo. The psychological theme of the coming-of-age of girls growing up in society with both the darkness and light of the process is represented by the bush and the animals that inhabit it.

Materials of tar and lime

  • Reflect chemical changes in the materials themselves
  • Are organic and inorganic - living and dead