The Benediction of Shade – Saturday Morning Talks

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In the last month of The Benediction of Shade, we’ll be hosting a series of Saturday morning talks acknowledging the host of perspectives on trees and forests that the exhibition has engaged.

The talks will happen every Saturday beginning at 11am. Light refreshments will be served. Please see below for a programme of the speakers.

talks about his Umlungu series of etchings

The Umlungu series, that first appeared on Swift’s solo exhibition of the same title in 2011, looks at Swift’s inquiry into what is means to be a white African living in South Africa. Swift has used the Stone Pine tree as a metaphor for his investigation. These are massive imposing landscape trees, panoramic additives to how the tourist world sees the first world nature of Cape Town.

Swift has said of his work:
“In order to make a difference, its imperative that I understand who I am, and what I represent, what is of value, and what needs readdressing. One cannot extract Europe from Africa’s past, and similarly, on this rapidly reducing planet, neither continent will be able to survive the future in isolation. We need to better understand each other to work out how to achieve the best from each other. The time of arrogance or ignorance must pass. Communication, teaching and learning is possible through art.”


Artist collective Subtle Agency – Niklas Zimmer, Bradley van Sitters, Julia Raynham and Noncedo Gxekwa – talk about their project “Planting Seeds to Hunt the Wind” which investigates the dynamic cultural landscapes and healing practices of Khoi-San, Nama, Koranna and Khoekhoe doctors of African medicine, in the Cape Floristic Region (from Namaqualand to Eastern Cape). Their focus in the images produced was the polyculturalism and divine agency of curative plants, underlying African traditional medicine, as well as the social and political realism of its complex medical marketplace.
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Francois Krige, tree expert and promoter of “vegetable rights”, talks about his own experience with trees, particularly the rehabilitation of the unique Platbos indigenous forest in the Gansbaai region.
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talks about trees and weeds, some thoughts on how we live in relation to nature.

This lecture has been inspired by a reading of John Fowles’ The Tree, in which a series of recollections explains the impact of nature on his life and the dangers inherent in our traditional urge to categorize, to tame and ultimately to possess the landscape. Jamal’s presentation will interrogate different artistic representations of trees and forests through the ages, as a way of understanding our relationship to the wilderness.

Ashraf Jamal teaches at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, is the current editor of Art South Africa and a widely published writer and art critic. An interdisciplinarian, his major interests include philosophy, literary and maritime studies.

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