:: 2016 :: 90cm x 30cm :: Acrylics, Inks and Markers on Canvas ::
During my time painting murals in South Africa as part of the PaintUp with Kamamma project, I became very attached to the swifts who constantly flew about there. I was captivated by them, dreamed about them, saw them in the /Xam Bushman rock paintings, painted them constantly in my murals. I was also very concerned about the rain, for when it rained, I couldn’t paint. In the 19th century, the surviving /Xam people told how the swifts were the rain’s people, !khwa-ka !ke, and the rock art often showed shamans transforming into swifts. They are skilful flyers, a good metaphor for the shaman. When I finished my first two murals, it rained for two days. Yellow the Bushman said that when you do something good, the ancestors bless you with rain. Whenever it rained, the swifts came and sat on the wire outside my room where I stayed. I started to believe they were telling me something…
Late one night, in an oven of South African humidity, I woke up with a forked tail for legs, face down with winged arms a-splay, and I was dripping wet with sweat rain rolling from every part of my skin. Again and again this dream came. Electrified, my body was dripping rain. I whispered my dreams to the stars, to the Southern Cross, waded through a river to get to Ezeljagdspoort and climbed glowing ladders to paint threads of light. Only now have I realised that I’ve seen these threads of light many times before, the thinking strings and shamanic ladders of indigenous experience. I simply never called them that. When I was a child, they were flickering jagged in migraines, it took my whole body’s effort to move along them. I’ve seen them redgreenblue right up into the Heart of the Sky and bright white to the deepest heavens. I never realised they were the same thing until now. Is that what they were telling me…?
The Swift People, Ezeljagdspoort, March 2016
Design for a tattoo on my back which I had done after returning from South Africa