“In the process of creating, meaning will emerge.”
One thing that is quite apparent is that there is not so much of a demand for mud and barbed wire in the home (not many sofas are made of mud).
Visual notes of a thing that could be matched with a sofa:
It is well that I have a salary (“Those who can do, do [rage spit, rage, spew, vomit, ire, more rage], those who can’t, etc.etc. [fury, scream, more violent rage]), thus preclude myself from the “starving artist” identity. I suppose in the minds of many romantics, that is just wrong. I betrayed the cause. God forbid I ever went a step further and marketed my work. I can see that would be very slippery slope:
The land and its central role in Zimbabwean discourse of recent years seemed to force itself into my work, I think in a general sense, into the work of many contemporary artists. I had not named the various parts of the images as I wrote last week, and the interpretation of the images lacked specificity. A sort of transformation of ideas began to take place. In part, a need to start naming things, or using things with names (as opposed to shape and colour). I think I wanted to form my own ideas a little more clearly, and possibly communicate them more directly.
As with all artistic endeavours, there are a multitude of interwoven strands from which one derives inspiration (so-called…). Like many who paint, I have always been fascinated by the effects of various media, and the possibilities of different surfaces. A student (a Form Two at the time), had crafted a wonderful torso out of aluminium sheeting. She offered me a roll which became a pivotal moment. After a few explorations, I produced the work “Corona”. In that period of a few days/weeks, a relatively brief moment, it brought together numerous ideas and opened possibilities for using particular media and items as a means of figuration.
What was of immediate interest was that in the way the veneer and wound from before had become torn surface/land, the representation of the wound had become a literal gash, so too had the representation of land, become actual soil. There were many who found a link between the barbed wire and the extremely violent assault that my family and I endured at that time. In my mind this link was not written, but the related idea of defining and identifying territories as well as the land as object (manipulated in the extreme, as had occurred in this country for over 100 years) began to emerge.
What ensued was a series of works that has continued to the present. They have engaged with our claim on resources, our position in relation to these and their central role in numerous narratives during recent years. I shall not attempt a retrospective of my work, that is really not the point, but will mention two works below:
“Hondo” was part of “Sound to Form” exhibition, in which artists responded to various musical works. You can read about my thoughts relating to this work here: http://gregshawzw.tumblr.com/post/54609389484/sound-to-form and can find the music that inspired this work here: http://gregshawzw.tumblr.com/post/55858679181/the-source-of-my-work-below-by-the-renowned-hope (posted with the permission of the renowned Hope Masike). “The Frontier” was produced for “Terra II” at the Gallery Delta.
Which brings me to the present. Almost. In 2012, the first Art/Artefact exhibition was mounted at Gallery Delta. Contemporary artists were invited to respond to object d’art from around the continent. Foremost in my mind at the time was the process of re-contextualising what are primarily functional objects. I chose to work with the Tonga door, in itself a beautifully designed, functional object. My response mimicked the form, though obviously non-functional it hopefully brought into question concepts of claims made on territories and the means in which we defend and define them.
Art/Artefact II is currently showing Gallery Delta. My response for this exhibition has been to a Giriama Funerary Post. You can find a short blurb about that object on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=1038223032886843&id=299747193401101. As with many artistic endeavours, the motif that runs through the work came about partly through luck, in that the wooden sections were originally conceived as moulds, as seen in the studio shots below. How often it happens that unintentional moves reveal moments of discovery.
I began this post (Part 1) thinking about characteristics of charcoal. Though I have loved the aesthetic aspects of the substance, one particular quality that is paramount, especially in relation to the funerary post; more so in relation to this extraordinary land: Charcoal has been burnt, it is reduced to a substance that has the ability to be kindled: it embodies, it is potential.
- In order to form charcoal bricks, very little moisture is required. A texture like very dry pastry seemed to provide the best results. Drying a brick sized block took more than three weeks.
- The work “Corona” was exhibited on the “Colour Africa II” exhibition in Munich. In my records it belongs to Suzie Gliemann of Harare, a long standing supporter and patron of my work.
- According to UN (https://www.newsday.co.zw/2015/09/25/zim-maintains-africa-education-flagship-tag-un/), “Despite the social challenges of the last decade, Zimbabwe has not only met the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) regarding access to primary education, but also remains Africa’s flagship.”
Though the deadline day for the Form Four coursework was not without a significant measure stress, they all made the submission date. The marking of it is a significant task in which myself and three colleagues collaborate: We have clocked up about 10 hours this week. There has been a slight lull after the effort, though their examination is now 14 days away.
I took the Lower VI to the Delta to see the exhibition and draw from the artefacts. They are a demented group. Though I am generally slightly on edge, apprehensive about what may transpire at any given moment, they are lively and entertaining.
This interesting mixed media (iPad/Collage) work is by Oliver Harvey. Though it would not seem so, he is one of the more sane amongst them.
Greg Shaw 26 September 2015.
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