Indigenous art has always inspired me right through my career; artifacts had a great impact on the formal development of my sculptural vocabulary. The ceramic department at the Technikon, did numerous excursions into rural areas, as part of the student's cultural development program, exposing staff and students alike, to our diverse cultures and traditions, especially indigenous cultures. We did trips to KwaZulu Natal, Venda and the Eastern Cape. A few weeks ago I found this particular image (above), taken on one of the excursions to Venda. I am in the process of scanning in all these images to feature on the blog from time to time.
I really enjoy this particular photograph. Firstly, it is of historic significance; it portrays one of South Africa's Master Craftspeople, Rebecca Matibe, preparing clay for a demonstration. The trip to Venda was conducted in the early 90s. Secondly, If you look closely, you will see an image of, I presume her mother (on the left).
Then cast your eyes on the clay sculpture perched on the wall (seen here on the left). It is situated in the middle of the image elevated above everyone in the photograph, yet it resembles closely the pose of the mother. In the sculpture's right hand is a ball of clay - could it be a symbol of Rebecca's creativity; and therefore a portrait of Rebecca?
It is interesting to note the final image on the left, as it portrays the significance of the hands of the three figures in the photograph. The hand of the 'mother', the 'sculptural portrait' and the hands of the potter preparing the clay, they are all closely linked in one way or another. Their respective posses ensures an interesting composition - an empty kitchen chair, right in the middle of the photograph, adding the finishing touch. I waited in great anticipation to capture this moment. Although the lighting etc is not perfect, there is something very special about this particular image of Rebecca at her homestead. I always like styling images and this one is a rare account of being at the right place at the right time - photographers do this all the time - they have that special gift to spot that special moment particular to their prescribed subject matter.