Within a week of arriving in South Africa for my residency at The Bag Factory, I learned of the death of my grandmother. I chose to deal with this loss alone, rather than share it with those around me, fearing that the knowledge of this loss would that it would intrude on the initial encounter with them, and in doing so, alter the course of our interactions and relationships going forward.
This experience however, led me to consider loss and to understand it.
It occurred to me that one can never know the loss that another experiences; that whatever understanding there may be, relies on one’s own previous experience of loss projected onto the second person.
This shared understanding of loss, built on individual experience opened up, for me, an inquiry into the functioning of individual and collective memory: the alternating cycles of knowing and forgetting; the multiple remembrances of events; and the mechanisms of accessing and obscuring memories.
The making of the work borrows from intaglio and sgraffito printmaking techniques. Alternating layers of solid colours applied to the canvas in quick succession are representative of different stages of knowing and forgetting. Later, after application, I scratch them to varying degrees, revealing underlying layers and in some instances, applying ink to the revealed areas. The scratching and inking allude to modes of uncovering and retrieving memories, and well as the processes with which memories acre written over.
The whole process is solitary, cathartic, an undertaken entirely in private and what remains is canvases transformed into veils, a record of a private ritual made public after the fact. Grief, memory, loss, memory loss, all of these are folded into these canvases which stand as traces, memories in and of themselves.