“Position in Space”, Gallery 2, September 2010
I have always been interested in land. Since childhood I have wanted to climb to the highest point to get a bird’s eye view of the lie of the land. My paintings attempt to capture the spirit of a place, and so raise our awareness of the South African landscape as a place of beauty and strife. The possession of land is central to much of our identity, and land is like a canvas on which people can make their mark.
The shelters we make, the barriers we erect, the lines we plough, tell us a lot about our relationship with the land and about our relationships with each other (past and present). As a white South African woman born into the fraught and sterile world of apartheid South Africa, my paintings are my way of understanding my belonging. The title “Position in Space” is a term used by occupational therapists and is described as the sense of where one is relative to the environment one is in.
I am drawn to the landscape of the centre of the country, particularly the Free State. This is a reserved and polarised place, with its sad social boundaries starkly evident in the landscape. Fences define present-day spaces, stone circles and old corbelled huts indicate past settlements. Clusters of brooding eucalyptus trees signal a particular era of possession of the land. These signs are so close to the surface in this part of the country and for me they are the perfect vehicle for exploring our brittle and fragile coexistence, our position in space.