Stay Home Stay Safe (2021)
STAY HOME STAY SAFE, wear a mask, stand two meters apart, wash hands frequently, sanitize, maintain social distancing, groups of no more than fifty people, no visitors, no flights, no travel, restaurants closed, drive no more than 5 kms, borders closed, no cigarettes, no alcohol, connecting via Whatsapp, Facebook, internet, Zoom, webinars, schools closed, lockdowns level 5, level 4, level 3, level 2, level 1. These have been some of the early restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This work alludes to the crisis of 2020-2022, with Alpha, Beta, Delta and now Omicron variant of COVID-19. STAY HOME STAY SAFE is one of the buzz word phrases of the Pandemic, which refers to self-protection. Many of us have spent much of the last two years adhering to this phrase and its meaning and implications. The safety pins featuring in my work were inserted during the first lockdown in April 2020. I liked the irony of using safety pins to create a transparent shroud of viruses. I live and work in Durban South Africa and have chosen to work with “Isishweshwe” fabric.
The printed fabric designs, commonly used in everyday clothing worn by Indigenous and European South Africans, have their origins in Europe in the late 19th Century. Brought in by traders they were mainly blue, ochre and brown. The colour range has been extended more recently. The designs which show repetitive motifs are mainly circular in shape. These fabrics and the flamboyantly patterned fabrics are worn all over South Africa and in other countries in Africa as a symbol of culture. The brightness reflects the culture and the vibrancy of the sunny hot climate.
The designs radiate, along with the little grass and beaded mats, in a similar manner to the viruses. Beadwork and grass-work are widely used in South African. Ubuntu is an African word which means “I am because you are”. We each affect others in our lives. The European fabrics were introduced in Africa two centuries ago and today we live in a global world where with air travel and movement of people we are able to infect each other. I place myself in the work as I am fully aware that even staying home is not a full proof way to avoid contact with the virus because it might have been left invisibly behind on a surface by visitors even though during their visit we followed protocols.