Collection: Fishing for Colour & Tender Feelings

This collection invites you to commune with the imagined and experienced ocean. Using bright colours and graphic imagery I attempt to understand the relationship between humans and ocean while unravelling the complex legacies that have shaped the South African maritime narrative.

At its core, this exhibition is a window into the inner world of a fictional child, a child who experiences the marine world as an extension of themselves. In the whimsical narrative, this young explorer differs from the colonists who came bearing flags and stakes to claim land. Instead, our protagonist claims his place by grasping a humble frond of dried kelp, declaring his ancestral connection to the ocean. With a simple yet powerful gesture, he embodies the spirit of belonging that transcends human imposition, and embraces more-than-human entanglements.

This exhibition embarks on a philosophical exploration, drawing inspiration from the work of Kenyan philosopher John Mbiti. Mbiti's research on pre-colonial concepts of time in Sub-Saharan Africa challenges conventional notions of time and offers a profound perspective on sculptural, relational, and plural time. In "Fishing for Colors and Tender Feelings," I aim to bring this unique concept to life, presenting it as a multi-sensory experience that encourages others to reconsider their own perception of time, place and relationships with the worlds that shape them.

The young protagonist of our story raises questions that challenge colonial ideologies that once severed our connection with the ocean. He defies the Western concepts of "wilderness" and "conservation," recognizing that he is not separate from the ocean; he is the ocean, and the ocean is him. The world, he believes, will find him where the land meets the sea, sitting on a rock, fishing for colors and tender feelings. His quest is to explore the depths of existence, from the essence of life to the inevitability of death, while learning how to be responsible for that which he loves.

Bayo Akomolafe's words echo in the backdrop and resonate with Mbiti’s work, reminding us that the Atlantic is an archive of tears of his people, and how we look at time, at history needs generous and imaginative leaps. Akomolafe, also reminds us that the Slave ship, when it arrived on land, turned into schools, economies and governments, and so still exists, and we still need to become fugitive from it’s grasp. Our protagonist wades into the water, merging his own tears with the vast expanse of ocean—a moment of connection and healing, or perhaps, an "anarchive" as Erin Manning suggests.

As you journey through these images, you will encounter the thriving world of coral gardens and seaweed soccer fields, once seen as off-limits by colonial forces. These vibrant underwater realms now symbolize the child's imaginative exploration and the possibility of recapturing the beauty of what was once hidden.

Among the algae gardens, where life flourishes, the child yearns to grow up with the same vitality, adaptability, and generosity as the kelp that dances with the currents. His aspirations reflect a deep desire to live in harmony with nature, to be supple and resilient in the face of life's challenges.

This exhibition celebrates our yearning for a world that is interconnected, where boundaries between self, time, place and memory blur. It is a testament to the transformative power of reclaiming one's roots and embracing the ocean as an intrinsic part of our identity.