My body of work focuses on the “initiation and ceremonial” blankets without going into “initiation” as a process I focus on the meanings and functions of the blanket as well as what they each individually represents. I explore the the Xhosa Blanket as a Symbol of Identity and Tradition focusing on three types of blankets: the red ochre blanket, the initiation blanket, and the bridal blanket.
The red ochre blanket is one of the oldest and most traditional types of blankets among the Xhosa. It is made from wool or cotton, dyed with red ochre, a natural clay pigment that is abundant in the Eastern Cape region where the Xhosa live. The red ochre blanket has several functions and meanings for the Xhosa people.
The Initiation blanket is a white felted blanket with stark red bands along the length edges of the cloth. It is worn by young men who undergo the ritual of ulwaluko, or circumcision, which marks their transition from boyhood to manhood. It has a strong symbolic meaning for the Xhosa people. The bridal blanket is a colorful and elaborate blanket that is worn by a woman on her wedding day. It is usually made from beads, shells, buttons, coins, and other materials that reflect her personal taste and wealth.
The bridal blanket has multiple functions and meanings for the Xhosa people. I’ve have in my paintings tried to capture the difficulty I have with grasping my own identity with the way I have painted the blankets. I have realized that my search for my identity was becoming more spiritual and I’d like to dwell deeper into the unknown and the in-graspable in order to see if it is possible to truly grapple with the connection between spirituality and existence, and see how that impacts the discovery of one’s identity. This journey is reflected in the brush strokes that sometimes define and at other times not.
Through the use of oil paint and mixed media I create figurative paintings of a symbolic, spiritual and cultural nature which at times revolve around ceremonial scenes.