Karin Daymond lives in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga, an area rich in dramatic landscapes. The abundant sub-tropical vegetation, dotted by dramatic ‘whale back’ granite rock formations, has a profound effect on her outlook.                

“My paintings are of actual places and I have become accustomed to emotional responses to my work, as if the viewer believes they have been to that particular place. For South Africans this can be a particularly nostalgic and heartfelt response. Land in this country is not a simple issue. My work attempts to raise our awareness of the South African landscape as a place of beauty and strife. The possession of land is central in much of our identity and land is like a canvas on which people can make their mark. The shelters we make, the barriers we erect, the lines we plough, tell us a lot about our relationship with the land and about our relationships with each other. As a white South African woman born into the fraught and sterile world of apartheid South Africa, my work is my way of understanding my belonging”.

Life in South Africa is always controversial, ironic and sometimes tragic. Debates rage and yet the land is always there, regardless of to whom it belongs. Natural elements reassert themselves through seasons and patterns.  

The meditative process of finding order and pattern in this seemingly chaotic environment forms a large part of Daymond’s work.

Artist Statement:

These are landscapes in which my sense of aloneness prevails. I constantly puzzle over the idea of landscape art, painfully aware of its loaded history. Those burdens of acquisition and dominance are always with me and so for a moment I sought a state free of these ideals and agendas. These drawings are an escape, a simple search for a state intrinsic to everyone. I am always looking for the horizon. 

Landscape can mean many things to me, but being immersed in a vast and pristine landscape allows me to feel alone and aloneness has become a rare and undervalued state. James Howell wrote in his letters "I am never less alone, than when I am alone". In these drawings there are no signs of human interference.  

Different landscapes provoke different responses in me and once again, there is a distinction between tropical and arid places. The humid east coast environment is tumultuous and boisterous-it can afford to take risks.

The Karoo and the central parts of South Africa have a quiet drama-vast and cautious. The Karoo is risk averse, a mirror of a more introspective aloneness. I stumbled upon a narrow band of this feeling while making these drawings. It was a point in the drawing of these landscapes when I momentarily captured that simple feeling of being alone. It may be entirely in my imagination, but a couple of marks either side of this narrow band meant that the feeling was lost to me.  

Each drawing started off quite specifically as a place I had been to and quickly became a kind of automatic drawing, as if the drawing was emerging from the paper as the charcoal passed over. Each plant or hill was like a bump in my consciousness; a slightly tall upright bush had an entirely different feeling from a round, dissolving one. Crowded bushes generated a feeling unlike that of a bush standing alone. 

One of the stimuli that resulted in me bolting for this cocoon was the possibility of frackingin this environment. The potentially violent intrusion of this stillness made the drawing process feel like writing a love-letter to someone who was going to war. As an extension of this, the intrusion on delicate balances within our minds and bodies, echoed in our broader environment, is a continuous thread in my work. 

The charcoal medium supports this feeling of fleeting and delicate balance. It is a sensitive medium and one brush of a finger can change it completely. Also, it is like the affinity between watercolour paint and painting water. The Karoo landscape has all the elements of charcoal; woody, dusty, hard and soft bits, caused by the seasons through which the plant lived. 

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