Who’s in and out

A recent IODA conference at the Sustainability Institute at Lynedoch featured wild walks, clay workshops and an exercise in “boundary adjustments”. When we talk about land use and access we begin to question why we are surrounded by so many fences..

Land art at the Glencairn Labyrinth…

A group of friends and fellow artists from Western Cape Land Art visited Koos Burger’s great fynbos Labyrinth in Gelncairn, Cape Town. Then we made some work under the trees along the stream bed - ephemeral creations of twigs, flowers, leaf-litter and mud. It was a fitting year-end gathering for us WCLA-ers. As I look back on the year I feel it is more critical than ever to make art WITH rather than simply about Nature. Subtle, secret creations about finding shelter, about belonging to and fitting into a landscape, about cycles of growth and decay, about a fresh way to view the natural world… or perhaps a celebration of colour is quite enough? See Western Cape Land art on Facebook for more examples of how we like to interact, interview and intercede with Nature.

Veld and Sea and Art…

What a glorious afternoon with Veld and Sea, running a nature art workshop. We began with a chat about different kinds of site-specific art and ephemera… and then went in search of genius loci!

Leilah and Lois collaborated on a complex installation.

Sometimes it’s rather like like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You scan the place and walk up-and-down… and then you see something completely new: this tribal character showed up quite unexpectedly.

Pippa quietly worked on four or five separate pieces.
… and as Roushanna found, sometimes you may even need to dance to the work!

Thanks Roushanna for delicious floral feast - rounded off with a drop of home-made elderflower fizz - definitely giggle water. Hope to play with Nature again soon.

First reflections on Stories of Rain

Waiting for rain, waiting for land art - this month we got plenty of both!

The GNAP nature art tour swept across South Africa from 8 September to 6 October. As our international guest artists arrived on the Highveld, I waited for glimpses of their progress on social media. They visited rock art sites and dramatic rockscapes from Mpumalanga to Cederberg, Posberg and Driekopseiland (WISH I’d been there!).

Finally the travellers began to converge on the Cape, and Cha Davenport and I relayed our guest artists to the Boland and beyond. Never mind Stories of Rain, there was a LOT more cold cloudy weather than we expected. Augh – no picnics! Layered between logistics and language lessons, alongside art interventions in nature, we made a storm of conversations thunderbolt new connections. Dialogues continued throughout the trip: about homelessness and the search for ‘home’, about site and place, about the gendered landscape, about the worth and position of an artist. Discussions shifted faster than the view of the roadside from our vehicles, and more questions than answers seem to be the only rule.

• In light of our inspiration being First Peoples, wanderers and barefoot Bushmen, why were we constantly travelling by motorized vehicle? Aha, here’s a thought.: a Global Nomadic Artist Pedestrian Tour … Arniston to Agulhas, plus the Otter Trail!!!
• With plastic present in every litre of seawater, pollution spreading everywhere on the planet, is anywhere still actually ‘wild’? Is there any way to erase the human mark?
• Photo’s photo’s photo’s… do they capture the moment or just kill it? if a land artist falls in a forest and there’s no one there to take a picture, did it really happen at all?
• We agonise over monoculture cropping and the human mark on land, but are our interventions really any more sensitive? Is body art perhaps the most appropriate in this regard? I learnt a lot from Istvan, Patrick, Imke and the other artists. Performance, whether intuitive or conceptual, is pretty exciting. I plan to investigate more body works.

• Who may claim to negotiate the ‘genius loci’? Are visitors making false claims to know the spirit of place or can anyone with a certain sensitivity make that connection? Perhaps the true Nomad is gifted with openness and sensitivity. For that matter, when guest artists expressed a wish that our tour had been arranged so that they spend more time as a group I found myself disagreeing. Unlike a classic artists’ residency, our crowd-hosted GNAP tour distributed the visitors liberally among multiple hosts and embedded them in our cars, our homes and perhaps even our culture, and gave more than 80 of us the chance to meet and befriend them. How about that! Let’s ask these ‘locals’…

DAWN… women’s month!

What a Women’s Month Celebration, meeting some extraordinary poets, activists and inspiring women at Novalis Ubuntu Centre. I was lucky enough to draw the gathering in all its colour and spirit.

You should have been there on 17th, to hear that ‘we are the ones we have been waiting for’ and that ‘it’s time for us all to dance as one soul sister’ and share SPARKLE FINGERS!.