The Karen McKerron Gallery had been honoured and privileged to exhibiting the art of Judith Mason during the years 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 until the gallery closed in 2001 due to the environmental violence of the time and place.
Judith sent me a quote from Mohamad Guntur Romli, “Settting Heaven Aflame”;
“…..to enter heaven there is no need for madness, and so, no need either to justify all means of entry. Heaven-infatuation not only desecrates the just rewards that come from an unconditional sincerity towards God, but also makes religion a hell on earth”.
In 2016, when Judith was in Hermanus during the FynArts Festival we most fortunately had time together anticipating Judith’s move to the Cape that was not to be. Due to Judith’s interest in the Baha’i Faith it enabled me to give Judith ‘The Dawnbreakers’, Nabil’s Narrative, a book telling the story of the rise of the Baha’i Faith.
Judith Mason’s continuous art narrative was that of the soul, in the search of the soul reflected in humanity, as in her 1998 exhibition, at a the time of South Africa’s recognition of pain expressed during the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The 1998 exhibition was hung in a single gallery space with the homage works ‘Homage to the Woman who kept silent’ and ‘Homage to the Man who sang’ being honoured. Visitors to the exhibition were so emotionally challenged that silent tears were the acknowledgement of the souls of our collective humanity. The hand-made dress of collected blue plastic bags with the poetry of Antjie Kroeg written on the hem, rustled as if it were satin, hung on a wire hanger slowly moving in the air of the open window, establishing that in pain there is beauty.
The memory of those who lost their lives to the political idealogy of the past as represented in Judith Mason’s art of ‘The Woman who kept silent’ and ‘The Man who sang’ are now exhibited in the Constitutional Court art collection fulfilling what Judith had sought and desired: the acknowledgement of the national soul.
Out of South Africa’s apartheid isolation arose a collective consciousness of the humanity of all mankind being mirrored in the art of the time. Throughout history art in its many varied and expressive forms is the reflective mirror of society. The challenge in Judith Mason’s art is the threshold that has to be consciously crossed to perceive the beauty in pain as expressed by Goya in his later year’s art and Picasso in his Guernica painting.
“Of course our suffering and enjoyment are real, but knowing that they are inevitable parts of the creative process removes some of the sting” quote from ‘The Mind’s Eye,’ An Introduction to Making Images by Judith Mason.
May Judith, an artist, a woman of her time reflecting the evolution of the South African nation receive ‘the just rewards that come from an unconditional sincerity towards God’.
Image courtesy of The Artists’ Press