In a dream I witnessed a sparklingly alive lily pond dissolve as its water evaporated. Its plant, animal and insect life rapidly disappeared until only a hollow in the cracked clay remained. What was left was merely an aura of this small world I had lost; only a shadow of its joy lingered. In the memory of my heart however the pond ‘was not, was, forever is...’
(Extracts from Monet’s Waterlilies – by Robert Hayden)
Of Water and Invoking is a series of paintings made during a time of severe drought in Cape Town. It contemplates the loss of healthy ecological systems through human intervention.
The paintings are made from natural pigments from special places I visit. I collect, grind and prepare the paints myself. For this series, I have used the clay of the Hartebees River, Table Mountain ochre and burnt plant material (mostly alien species). Compared to contemporary manufactured oil paints these materials are clumsy and limiting to use. The result is paintings where the texture of the materials becomes as prominent as the image.
Most of the images in this series are based on paintings of water and waterlilies by the French impressionist painter, Claude Monet. In the 1890s Monet applied for permission to re-direct water from the Seine River in order to create a water garden for imported aquatic plants. The city council of Giverny objected to his plan, because they feared that the alien species might poison the area’s water. The effect of the Asian plants on the local ecology has not to my knowledge been researched; however the paintings that resulted from his endeavor have become some of the most iconic images of our time.
Monet's images were traced and then slowly destroyed over a period of time. I am interested in capturing the moments where the materiality of the river clay becomes so prominent that the original image starts to dissolve. These works consider what happens when cultural values and alien species are introduced into indigenous ecologies.
Thus endemic earth and I recall the qualities of water and re-member places close to my heart.