LADY SKOLLIE - GROOT GAT @ Standard Bank Gallery
Oct 5 – Dec 15, 2023
Groot Gat, also known as "Bushman's Hole," is the inspiration behind Lady Skollie's latest body of work. Situated in the Northern Cape of South Africa, this once-pristine freshwater cave held historical significance as a well and fishing spot for the local Bushman community before colonial expropriation. Today, it beckons risk-taking free divers who aim to set new records in its depths. In Skollie's evocative art, this abyss takes on profound symbolism. It becomes a metaphor for the intricate layers of her own identity and the broader narrative of Brown identity in South Africa.
"If you're Brown in South Africa, you have to grapple with a vast void—a chasm of forgotten culture and heritage within your own history," explains the artist. "It's a void you must fill with your own stories, traditions, and even new customs."
Through her art, Skollie endeavors to bridge the immense gap left by history, oppression, and colonialism. Her Standard Bank Young Artist Award project envisions a fantasy realm on the other side of Boesmansgat. Here, the San, the Khoi, the Griqua, and all Brown people of Southern Africa flourish without the disruptive influence of colonialism and cultural erasure.
In this imagined world, Skollie envisions vibrant cave drawings, unmarred by time or vandalism, echoing the brilliance of her own paintings. A central figure in this realm pays homage to Bushman artist Coex'ae Qgam, also known as Dada. Qgam's artworks were a powerful testament to her people's connection to the land, their spiritual beliefs, and daily lives. Her presence in Skollie's work holds deep significance, contributing to a place where Brown culture remains intact—a place where people know their origins and their path forward.
Lady Skollie seeks to expand on the concept that this cave serves as a portal to a parallel, reimagined universe filled with mythical creatures. Her profound connection to Dada Coex'ae Qgam, a Botswana artist and storyteller, adds another layer to this narrative—showcasing the resonance between their practices and personas.