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TITLE OF EXHIBITION

Kicking up Dust

ARTISTS

Colin Meyer
Earlyn Cloud
Zietske Saaiman

CURATORS

Tlotlo Lobelo
Dr. Paul Bayliss

GALLERY

Absa Gallery



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Exhibition statement

In Kicking Up Dust, three artists from Oudtshoorn who formed part of the 2019 Absa mentee programme, come together to evoke emotional and sensorial responses through representation of their experiences of the drought in the Klein Karoo. The naturally arid environment imbued with qualities of perseverance, hardship and strength forged the backbone of an agricultural community inherently and primarily responsible for sustaining their local economy.

The life of every Oudtshoorniet is intricately intertwined with what their landscape has to offer. Responding to the longest recorded drought, the artists, using various techniques of drawing and materials taken from their immediate environments, rely on the viewers’ sense of awareness to illicit a collective response. Appealing to a diverse audience with personal experiences and outside perspectives as they visit Oudtshoorn.

Kicking Up Dust singles out immediate experience of one place, with the intention to evoke awareness and engage with narratives of the impact of global climate change.

Curator: Tlotlo Labelo, Kicking up Dust

Catalogue
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Zietske Saaiman
salt the earth
Perspex, salt fragments and mud installation
18 Perspex sheets and cracked mud surface
Dimensions variable

Warped and melted Perspex sheets are suspended with a cold light shone from above to create the sense of water frozen in time. Underneath it hangs salt encrusted plant fragments found at the bottom of a dried-up dam. The salt fossilised the plants, and left behind beautiful remnants that look like the delicate bones of mysterious otherworldly creatures. Moving gently in a breeze, they create the image of these creatures swimming in a swarm-like formation. Beneath the Perspex and salt, cracked mud forms the bottom of this underwater scene. It is dry, and jarring, as it signifies the harshness of drought, but is here found drowned out by a simulated body of water.

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Zietske Saaiman
times rain
Rain meters and salt installation
7 Rain meters with lighting
Dimensions variable

Seven rain meters filled with salt hang in a row. The bottoms are opened so the salt could flow out in steady streams and create mounting heaps on the ground. The salt streams create the sound of rain, while the installation also creates the sense of sand falling through an hourglass, and time pouring out. The heaps are gently stirred by two fans placed at a distance, and as time passes the salt forms rippling rows, not unlike the wave-like formations found on a riverbank or the beach at low tide. Slowly but surely the salt waves ripple towards the cracked mud surface of the Perspex installation. Wind, salt and dust meet, and lingers in the air as one could only hope for a drop of actual water.

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Zietske Saaiman
Landscape Abraded I
Metal fan sculpture
Dimensions variable

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Zietske Saaiman
Landscape Abraded II
Metal fan sculpture
Dimensions variable

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Colin Meyer
Circle of Life
Pen
150 x 150 cm
Framed in black

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Colin Meyer
Dwindle
Pen
150 x 150 cm
Framed in black

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Colin Meyer
Minutes to midnight
Pen
150 x 150 cm
Framed in black

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Colin Meyer
Raindance
Pen
150 x 150 cm
Framed in black

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Earlyn Cloud
Acceptance
Charcoal and graphite
70 x 100 cm
Framed in black

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Earlyn Cloud
Unite
Charcoal and graphite
70 x 100 cm
Framed in black.

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Earlyn Cloud
Time
Charcoal and graphite
70 x 100 cm

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Earlyn Cloud
Prayer 1
Charcoal and graphite
70 x 100 cm
Framed in black

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Earlyn Cloud
Prayer 2
Charcoal and graphite
100 x 70 cm

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Earlyn Cloud
Prayer 3
Charcoal and graphite
70 x 100 cm

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Earlyn Cloud
Nurture
Charcoal and graphite
100 x 70 cm
Framed in black

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Earlyn Cloud

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Artist’s profile

Through a series of drawings, Earlyn captures the impact of the drought on the environment and community of Oudtshoorn. The images of hands have significant meaning. By showcasing the hands of local farmers, their families and workers, Earlyn emphasises the important role that hands play in our daily lives.

With close-up compositions, hyper-realistic detail and the textures of charcoal and graphite, Earlyn evokes an emotional response from the viewer, while broadening people’s mindsets and perspectives about the impact of the drought. This impact results in a sense of loss, the loss of enjoying the abundance and leisure of water, and instead focuses on the priority of preserving water that sustains all life, business and community.

Through the representation of hands, we aim to achieve a sense of hope, of coming together, praying together and enduring as one.


Artist’s profile

The changes brought on by the drought in Oudtshoorn goes beyond physical changes to the landscape. People’s relationships with their environment change, as they are forced to adapt and their bodies make sense of its elements in different ways. The natural balance of what used to be a reasonably harmonious coexistence with nature, is thrown off. Thus, this installation is constructed to play with the viewer’s perceptions of balance by throwing elements, both taken from nature and manmade, into juxtaposition, offering the viewers opportunities to work through various levels of awareness. They become aware of the strangeness of the space even though they recognise the drought represented, they become aware of their senses heightened as the space intrudes on their sensorial awareness. They become aware of their discomfort and how they share it with other viewers in the space. Passive contemplation is disturbed, as lived experience is engrained and relived as their sensitised awareness is exposed to the drought beyond the exhibition space.

By constructing an immersive environment that brings the viewer’s attention to self and their own experience of the created space, it is Saaiman’s intention to invoke an awareness that will then translate into an environmental awareness.

Zietske Saaiman

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Colin Meyer

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Artist’s profile

Meyer sees the environment dying, changing from an ecosystem full of life and abundance into one of decay and scarcity. From swimming pools closing and water restrictions to the decreasing water levels of the Raubenheimer Dam – Oudtshoorn is slowly dying of thirst.

The drought not only affects us, but all living creatures, animals and plants alike. Farmers are losing their life’s work. Baboons have to scavenge, drinking salt water out of desperation.

Meyer’s mandalas visually demonstrate how the drought is impacting the survival of all living creatures. The mandalas show the transformation from life to death. But it also shows the possibility of life returning if we manage our resources and work on restoring our environment.


Absa Gallery

Our art gallery is not your conventional gallery. The art we exhibit in
this space is both the works of pioneering art masters, and that of dynamic, inspiring and emerging visual artists. More than simply preserving the continent’s art legacy, we are committed to shining the spotlight on works of young African artists to bring their possibility to life.

While the Covid-19 pandemic may have changed how we consume art (attending exhibition openings or visiting art galleries), it should not affect our
experience of art. We want to make art more accessible to everyone. That’s why we’ve started the Absa Art Hot Spot, an initiative through which we live
stream digital openings of the art exhibitions in our gallery. Furthermore, we’ve collaborated with well-known local artists to bring you art masterclasses and insightful discussions with previous Absa L’Atelier
winning artists. In short, you can now attend a prestigious art event from the comfort of your chair.

You see, art is in our DNA. Although banking is not something you usually associate with art, our corporate art collection is one of the largest in
Africa and in the top 10 globally. In fact, our buildings are filled with art from our collection, as well as artworks specially commissioned for our buildings.

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