I have always been close to the land, something I took for granted after 10 years in the UK. In South Africa, you are always surrounded by a strong presence of nature. Even in cities like Johannesburg you can smell the earth. When I sit in contemplation in the bushveld in the Northern Province, where I have strong ties from my childhood, I connect with a wildness. Only remnants remain of a hidden or forgotten recent human history in the dense bushland, tainted by land claims in the advent of the Apartheid years, a rich and golden time for the Afrikaner. This is how my family obtained their land. This is also how I obtained my land.
The 500HA farm, Dekop, â€œThe Headâ€, has been in my family for over 70 years, a very recent thus a very personal and almost tangible history. Discarded remnants of previous residents remained scattered over the farm. I questioned such careless behaviour for the first time when I started cleaning the landscape after my father died.
This process of claiming family â€œownedâ€ objects, became a personal journey of acknowledgment of a lost connection to my family roots, a disconnection to the landscape in careless ignorance, and my identity as a white Afrikaner. During the excavations, items appeared which informed previous stories of people unbeknownst to me. By talking to the local worker, Frikkie, an animated storyteller who has seen many years on the farm, a devastating legend was confirmed in its brutal honesty. As I walked towards the 7 rock graves hidden away by the dense overgrown bushes, I acknowledged a need for the unknown souls to be recognised as I cleared out the area and re-arranged the rocks.
Today in South Africa redistribution of land is taking place as part of the reconciliation process. White farmers are in fear for the loss of their livelihood. An act of acknowledgement and recognition, could possibly pose potential for alternative reconciliation processes, motivating connection as opposed to displacement. By carefully crafting sculptures out of Â antshills, I honour the lost forgotten men and women who once lived here.Â