Print of the Month October 2020 | Zhi Zulu | Bridge Over Troubled Giraffe

Zhi Zulu DK Inside Story, silkscreen series 2019-20

The city is a disorienting space for anyone – humans and animals alike. Johannesburg is one such city and has been known by many names: Joburg, Jozi, The City of Gold. Most suitably in this scenario, it can be called the Concrete Jungle – a mix and match of natural and urban, old and new, home-grown and cosmopolitan. The giraffe depicted in this print has landed itself tangled in the hustle and bustle of the city, and captures a feeling that many of us experience when faced with the streets of inner city Johannesburg. A sort of surrendering to the unpredictable busy-ness of one’s surroundings. 

Listen to this David Krut Podcast episode where Zhi elaborates on the inspiration behind this image; the humour and colour choices; and the collaboration with the David Krut Workshop team of printers.

Zhi Zulu signing her work at The Blue House, Parkwood, Johannesburg.

Zhi created this silkscreen print during her second collaboration with the David Krut Workshop (DKW) this year (2020), and the work was presented for the first time at the Turbine Art Fair. Bridge Over Troubled Giraffe is part of a growing series of silkscreens, inspired by the artist’s experience of African stories being told for tourists and foreigners. The images convey a humorous take on stereotypical, inaccurate and fantastical tales that foreigners sometime believe of wild animals walking in the streets of Johannesburg, or people keeping them as pets.  

This print collaboration was started just before the South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown began in March 2020 and with lack of access to digitally printed positives it was necessary to hand draw the artwork to expose onto the screens for printing. This required Zhi handing over some of the making process to the printers on the project. In a way, this brought the work back to the most traditional sense of printmaking.  

Zhi’s colour choice for the animals in the series stems from her intuition and practice of using bold, bright and surprising colours. She was assisted through the silkscreen process by printer Roxy Kaczmarek and the David Krut Workshop team. 

Zhi has a passion for education and the arts, and how they intersect with culture to create knowledge, and so it’s no wonder her vibrant image has such an appeal. Zhi has a skilful knowledge of how to balance seemingly mismatched colours, which was especially considered in the silkscreen process – resulting in some unexpected results, beyond the artists control. This is common of the printmaking practice, and was a unique experience for the digital artist. 

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