Rough collar (2018)

Hand incised, perforated carbon paper, carbon thread, carbon residue.

Perspex and wood display case

45 x 40 x 40 cm (excluding display case)

R 157 050

Created in the hearts of stars, the element of carbon continues, unlike any other element, to be re-purposed into new forms.

In 2016, I had a dream, in which I saw my skin being peeled away from my body, as if I was discarding a burnt and charred membrane. This stimulated the idea of scratching away at the thin black film of carbon covering a piece of diaphanous, skin-like carbon paper.

To create Rough collar I spent three months scratching away at the black carbon paper to create 7,6 metres of delicate lace pattern. The lace pattern was emblazoned with mantling borrowed from the Union of South Africa’s 1932 ‘embellished’ coat of arms. I then hand stitched this lace into a 16th Century European ruff collar. The collar is presented as either rising out of, or disintegrating into, the carbon residue – the element that gives it substance.

The resulting work is a rarefied object created out of the throw-away medium of carbon paper. It speaks to me of the generations whose symbols continue to be a weight around our necks, signalling identity, perpetuating difference. Even as they are increasingly less valid, these symbols continue to exert an influence into our democratic and digital age. They imprint our image of ourselves with inheritance – carbon copies in the cycle of life.

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[Photographs by University of Johannesburg]