There is a delicate balance to nurturing an exhibition such as Diaspora. The sweet spot is when artists begin to investigate what they may not have considered before. When it comes to places that have shaped us, that are familiar on a primal level, there may be things that we did not even know we knew, about ourselves and about a place.
Surprisingly, this lens is seldom turned on the Mpumalanga region and its people. Posing the question “How has Mpumalanga shaped your visual vocabulary?” has yielded a collection of work that has a distinctive raw energy. There are numerous references to natural elements, to wildness, to animals and plants. There is a dominant sense of being close to the earth. And to my delight, many participating artists have expressed that as a result of this process, they are experiencing an extended awareness of their present surroundings.
My hope is that we are all more aware that the simple building blocks are worthy of attention and that these can have a profound effect on the filters that artists (and indeed all of us) apply to our worlds.