Freedom Day in lockdown
a new outoftheCUBE project
In lockdown, the days seem to run one into the other.
On the Thursday beforehand, I suddenly realised that Monday 27 April is the South African Freedom Day public holiday. I remember the day of our country’s first democratic vote, the folk of South Africa standing in long lines, waiting to cast their votes, an incredible atmosphere of hope, excitement and unity. And afterwards, my family and some friends gathering at our house for a celebratory braai.
The irony of this year’s public holiday struck me hard – Freedom Day in lockdown. Isolation. Suspicion. I decided to invite a few artist friends to each create a work around the theme of lockdown, and they really pulled out all the stops. It has resulted in this online exhibition of intimate artworks with some short heartfelt comments.
Amy-Jane van den Bergh
State of mind
screenprint monotype with glitter lettering on handmade paper
The Covid-lockdown has been a time of self-reflection for me. While being restricted to the familiar perimeters of my home, I've had the indulgence to dig deeper within. One of the key discoveries I have made is a significant, 'FUCK IT' approach to creating art. The rules, the boundaries, the constructs that once seemed so necessary, so powerful, so important have all but faded since listening to my own creative voice. State of Mind is a celebration for me of this personal freedom, self-discovery, and is a glorious ode towards breaking the invisible rules that once restricted my creativity.
Free to imagine
Ink and gouache on paper
Freedom in my bubble
Ink on paper
I am fortunate to have a large and intriguing garden. During lockdown I have spent a large portion of my time examining the nature within my environment: not only the plants but also cloud formations, the flight of birds, butterflies and the multitude of tiny frogs that have appeared.
Lockdown has had a very calming effect on me and given me the freedom of time to pursue my art projects and the time to play with art materials. I feel very safe and creative within my bubble. As humans we have the freedom to think whatever we want no matter our physical situation. The choice I have made - to focus on my own creative projects and exclude as much as possible the noise of the outside world, may seem frivolous but it is true to me and I have the freedom to do so.
My Freedom Day art works reflect my involvement in my natural world: the bamboo in my garden and the cat is part of an ongoing art project of the Travels with a Donkey, Cat and Jester.
Mixed media (Monotype with charcoal) on 250gsm Stonehenge
Tussocks and Tassels:
Lockdown has been a space of healing and comfort to me. In the silence that is, I am more connected than ever to the nature around me. Friar Tuck, the Mynah bird, adopted us at the beginning of the year. He is a very vocal and jovial character who entertains me on a daily basis. Within that comical presence of his however, I see little signs of edges beginning to fray. Just as Friar Tuck is looking a little scruffy and bedraggled with the colder weather setting in, so I begin to feel a whisper of uncertainty and restlessness.
Broken boat, seated
monotype on Fabriano Rosapina 285gsm paper
Finding a seat for a broken boat
digital print on Hahnemühle 300gsm paper
The two works that I created on Freedom Day 2020 are a continuation of my interest in the motif of the boat and the meanings it generates. As visual reference, I have been working directly from a decomposing makoro, a traditional African boat made by digging out the trunk of a large straight tree. The boat was found during a road trip in 2018 at Verkykerskop of all unlikely places, a deserted town near Harrismith in the Free State Province.
In these two works, the deteriorated state of the makoro and its placement as ‘seated’, on a chair, are reminders of limitation and restriction of movement – evoking the ironic experience of lockdown on a day of freedom.
ink on paper
I have not been able to visit the park during the lockdown period, but I sometimes drive past it for a quick glance. Our newly planted trees have all grown a hand or two higher, undisturbed by our anxiety. Brightly coloured swings, see-saws and other playing equipment appear frozen in the absence of children. Tattered hazard tapes, tied roughly around the stumps of fallen trees, refuse to let go. The quiet of isolation is tangible throughout this space, marking the palpable pain of absence of the one for whom we planted the trees.
Like the game, this virus chews everything in its path. While we are protected and comfortable in our cages, the destroyer wages an invisible and unseen war outside. Its invisible poison is implied by the imperceptible toxicity in the lead medium that I’ve used to create this work.
Freedom Day in lockdown: Josh
pen and ink on paper
This unbroken interval spent at home has allowed me even more time to observe my dog. I’ve been amazed at his elegant manner and his capacity for patience. Usually, whenever I go out, he will lie by the gate and gaze at me while I leave. This Freedom Day, I was on the same side of the gate as he. His attitude spoke of comfort at home with a gentle, wistful longing for the outside world, which echoes my own completely.
Monique van Rooyen
white chalk drawing on black paper
The delicate state of mind …
digital photograph and accompanying poem
Little boxes look the same...
Life being lived with rage,
Movement in the swaying, clinging bodies
With pressing passion
An arm raised, lights flicker
Alone, not lonely
Separate, not disconnected.
Hidden, then revealed in observation of you, of ourselves.
Waiting Patiently 1, 2 and 3
mixed media with found charcoal from burnt veld
As an artist who spends most of my time out in the land, and not being able to move freely during lockdown, Freedom Day surely stresses the weight of what is happening globally right now.
My days are divided into extreme emotional experiences. On one side there is gratefulness for the time to just ‘breathe’ - not only for me as a human, but also for Mother-earth to have some time to heal, even though this lockdown period could never be long enough.
Yet frustration, impatience and a sense of underlying guilt are also at play here, along with a yearning to erase all that is happening in the world while knowing that this is not possible. Being trapped in this emotional state just gets messy, just gives the sense of an inability to keep clean.
charcoal on paper
This piece was not intended to be an artwork. I was called to touch, to get my hands dirty. While sitting, there was no direction, just an intention to connect to a myriad of feelings surrounding what I was experiencing on the onset of lockdown. I knew that even though life was going to be different and foreign to what I identified as normal and free, something more called to me. I felt possibility and that I had to put it to paper, to touch it, for it to be real. It’s ironic then, that a mere scribble, being compelled to express, became a solidified expression of what this lockdown has brought for many. Light. A new way of thinking and being. And emergence.