WIE IS ONS (Bitter/Sweet)
charcoal, oxides and chalk on paper
This drawing is one of a series of more than 12 drawings of aloes in which I explore my attachment to home, family, my people, my nation, humanity.
The aloe as motif functions on many levels as representative of this investigation: -
Its appearance – singular, unbranched, column like, a caryatid, suggests a human form. Even grouped across a hillside, individual aloes grow at a distance from one another – grouped but alone, part of society but individual. Tallness makes them vulnerable to toppling. Sap/blood oozes from leaves cut for muti-making.
The history of the aloe hangs around it in layers of dead and decaying leaves. Indigenousness as a central concern in this work is explored through uprooting, transplanting, stealing, ‘taking cuttings’.
The drawing contains the words: ‘wie is ons’. (Who are we).
This phrase (question as statement) is taken from a scrap of paper I discovered after the death of my father, upon which he had written it. The shock of uncovering my father’s vulnerability and profound questioning of position/belonging/meaning, lead me to mistrust my own sense of belonging and the validity I attached to that. A way of processing this loss was through the aloe works.