Ancestral Understanding of Self

Ancestral Understanding of Self

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535 x 545mm
Terracotta, Gesso, Sand, Rock Pigment on Mirror Board.

“And since you know you can see yourself best by reflection, I’ll be your mirror and show you, without exaggeration, things inside you that you can’t see” - William Shakespeare.

The mirror reflects our physical form and in doing so helps solidify and embody our perception of self. But is this the only reflection we have, a reflective glass? Or do the people around us act as a reflection of the many facets of ourselves?  Do we make and shape ourselves or does the village?

These are the questions I decided to explore within this work. The style of art is that of my distant ancestors the Khoi-San peoples, the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa. Upon my visit to my ancestral home, I was taken away by the sheer antiquity, cultural preservation, artist skill and accuracy that I saw in ancient rock painting made by my ancestors. There are many important figures in this piece and they relate to the Khoi-san tribe |Xam belief systems. One is the depiction of the Eland, an ox like creature native to Southern Africa. This creature represent, the lifeblood of the tribe and is a power animal. Parts of the body and the blood of the Eland is used in rituals. The second figure is the Praying Mantis, which in Khoi-San belief the deity of chaos,
ǀKágge̥n is said to take this form. He is often an anti-hero similar to Loki in Norse mythology. The Sun and the Moon is also worshiped and as are other elements such as lightning, these make appearance also within this piece. 

So as you start into your reflection, is it you or the people around you that define who you are?