Cast unaggregated cement and gold leaf x 17cm x 11cm
A sculpted concrete bust with a carved pattern over the surface. Gold leaf is applied to the carved out pattern to firmly ground the piece in the gold of Africa.
The surface detail is made up of traditional Arabic, European and African patterning in the concrete directly expresses the 2000 year old history of cultural and artistic exchange between Asia, Africa and Europe, the delicacy of patterning on the face expresses the subtleties of diplomacy and trade, and the indestructible nature of concrete alludes to the corresponding societal strength created through cultural hybridisation. The gold and the decorative rope around the neck reminds us of the wealth of Africa contrasted to the ancient, inhuman trade in slaves.
Cultural cross-pollination shaped our modern society and the art within it. Historians have proven that gold and goods from the east coast of Africa were traded with Asia and Europe 2000 years ago; The “Periplus of the Erythraean Sea”, written between 40 and 70 A.D, records a long-established trade route along the Swahili coast. It is plausible that Southern African gold paid for the creation of many historic concrete structures in ancient Rome. European settlers coming to southern Africa had no idea that their culture was already partly indebted to Africa via this centuries-old trade along the east coast.
I am always inspired the cross pollination of ideas, most especially by diaspora, African identity and by my context as a South African of European decent. I’m driven by human connection, both between small individuals and vast cultures.