The Insaka Heritage Links Artists Workshop in Livingstone , Zambia required working with found/natural material. I made two works (images attached). A Zambian Village Layout made with potato prints & playing SOLO games with village kids. And Twatasha’s Elephant Eyes, and engraving into concrete made from elephant blood, charcoal.
I have been memorising natural paint mixtures from ancient cave paintings for the past decade, and though it’s the ideal time to try and mix a batch of paint with charcoal. We camped in the electric fence of the new Maramba Cultural village, built for the International UMWTO Tourism Conference. Ironically the new cultural centre was built in a mass of small Mopanie trees, known as an elephant corridor. No wonder we were visited the first couple of nights by unhappy elephant, tearing down walls and trees just outside our electric fence. It was obvious that we were inconsiderate with where we are situated. A couple of days into the 2 week workshop I started asking the kitchen staff to collect blood to use as a binding agent in my charcoal paint. I needed to cover about 40m2 on the Fountain building in a dark paint. Then an elephant got shot about 500 meters from our tents. I visited the site a couple of hours after the incident and heard contradictory stories from the community and the game rangers. I explained my purpose using blood as a binding agent and the game rangers agreed for me to scoop a sufficient amount for my paint mix. Scooping 3 litres of luke warm clotted blood from a fresh elephant carcass is cathartic for the day and age we are living in. Yet I found myself level headed and purposefully engaging with death.
I painted the natural mix directly onto the peach coloured walls as a background. It dried a rich charcoal tone. Twatasha Kabwe’s eyes, a Zambian artist living in the States for 15 years, reflected the longing she has for Zambia with the diaspora of her life abroad. I engraved her gaze into the concrete underneath with a grinder called Twatasha’s Elephant Eyes.
The second artwork “ Zambian Village Layout” I planned earlier in the year. It was inspired by Ron Eglash: The fractals at the heart of African designs’s TED talk. Fellow artist Lucy Steggals built a play circle in the Showgrounds Village. This was an ideal opportunity for me to get the kids to show me how to play SOLO, a traditional Zambian game that teaches strategy. When I grasped the game it all fell in place.