1) Why does the earth matter to you as an artist?

In the attached writing I speak about earth as a primary medium in my work -both conceptually and literally. I use the earth of various places in the making of the sculptures to reference that place and reflect on the history - both personal and political of that space and place. Issues of placement and displacement are addressed in the sculptures. ( please see the writing below for a more detailed description of these ideas)

2) How do you see the role of the earth as a source of power?

Issues of power and powerlessness have been at the root of my work. The use of earth and its connection with the land it comes from is key to the concept behind "Land/Displacements".

Each time I take a small handful of dirt from a place it become a way of "claiming" that land and in turn I hope to speak to and critique my own migratory history and the issues of land claim and political histories that surround my South African identity. ( please see writing below for a more detailed description of these ideas)

Land/Displacement, 2013

Most recently I have been exploring notions of monumentality and the human form through a series of works. Created with a process that begins with the digging and gathering of soil from various locales and progresses in the studio through such actions as welding, casting, modeling, and carving, I create these figures in order to open up narratives that speak through both image and materiality.

At the core of these works are reflections on place. Over the past year I had been traveling to various countries including Dhrangadhra in India, Gaborone in Botswana, and Durban, Cape Town, and the Karoo, in South Africa. In each location I gathered sand and dirt and embedded this sampling of earth into cement carvings of small birds and figures. Experiencing the particular terrain of each site and creating work on that site was a way for me to engage intimately and physically with the very stuff of a place. In digging into the soil and quite literally using it as raw material in making my cement forms I was able to reflect on landscape as ground and to literally draw from it. Perhaps this was rooted in some longing to better understand how political and personal histories are inherent in the ever-present awareness of place. Or how ground, land, soil, and earth reference a sense of belonging. Perhaps the very act of taking dirt and including it in these works was a momentary act of appropriation of the land and soil, for by including it in the work I take it, I replace it. This small gesture for me, spoke to a larger issue of land as identity.

I was also conscious that in journeying to locales both familiar and unfamiliar the works that I created were a very direct response to my tactile experiences of that site. For each work I used the local aggregate from that place in an attempt to 'mark' or reflect on that place and its history.

Land/Displacements ( for 2013) is a large weighty form that for me references a fragment of landscape. This work belongs to no specific place. Indeed it is a monumental work, but one that can be moved from site to site, displaced. This work is a way of marking space and place, but framed as something, temporary, not permanent. On the surface of this form small figures will be attached. The repetitive act of carving each figure in various locations gives voice to the act of being in a place while considering the collective migratory patterns of creatures and people- of groups, flocks, swarms and pods.

Also in play are what have been recurring themes in my work. These are issues of permanence and impermanence, location and dislocation, and place and displacement. The figures form a mark on the landscape and are dwarfed by its size. I think about the paradox of the singular body fragmenting to give rise to the multiple bodies and multiple bodies in turn coalescing into a singular body. For me this is also a reference to form coming out of and merging back into itself. Like the mist created on an evaporating body of water. Like the images of a whole being dreaming the collective dream of many and the many dreaming the collective dream of the singular.

My family's travels from the Shetland to Cairo and then to South Africa on my paternal side and from France to Mauritius to Zimbabwe to South Africa on my maternal side, mark for me my own transient roots and complex history. In the creation of each carving the act of remembering, marking and imagining are undertaken. The large landscape form upon which these small figures "float" are reflections on the land in South Africa and the surrounding bodies of water.