Do you consider yourself firstly a Zimbabwean living in South Africa or an African living in South Africa?
I do feel a strong connection to both Zimbabwe and South Africa. I spent the first half of my life, including the most formative years, in Zimbabwe (18 years) and the second half in South Africa (20 years up until now). I also spent 4 years in Switzerland, 2 influential years after leaving home for the first time at the age of 18, and 2 after graduating from Michaelis School of Fine Art.
Your current exhibition Cross the River in a Crowd includes a sculpture of a mother with a baby on her back, balancing a load on her head. Tell us more about this imagery.
The mother and child is a recurring theme in art and I have used variations of this in my art before. In Shona sculpture, the abstract mother and child embracing is so common that it often found as a curio. In this version of mine, the mother is carrying her child on her back and a load on her head in a way that is common in Zimbabwe. The load in my work is vastly exaggerated and suggests the balancing rock formations common to Zimbabwe that are also depicted on many Zimbabwean bank notes. For me, the image of a mother and child, half-submerged in a river border crossing, with all her worldly possessions on her head, suggests the height of desperation.
What is your process for choosing material for a project?
I choose materials that resonate with me. The project will normally dictate the materials in some way. The starting point may be a proverb or expression that lends itself to being visualised in a certain way. I gravitate towards cheap and ubiquitous materials such as plastic-weave bags, matches, paint sample cards and beads. The process of making the work is often labour-intensive.
How do you know when a work is finished?
When I used to paint, I struggled with this issue and I often over-worked my paintings. With the work I make now, I am more removed from the process and so it is easier for me to tell when something is finished.