Artists have always found inspiring ways to respond to challenging circumstances. So it’s no surprise that when Fée Halsted and Somandla Ntshalintshali found themselves locked down together on the Ardmore Farm, they created a COVID-19 Masterwork.
Somandla interpreted Fée’s original concept with a series of coils, winding their way ever upwards from the base. He began with a crocodile - long revered by African ancestors for symbolising the ancient wisdom that reassures us that after dark, must come light.
Within the crocodile's arched form, Somandla has inverted another creature bedecked with scales: a curled-up pangolin, representing protection as it seeks safety by “locking down” in its own way. Rising phoenix-like above both croc and pangolin, a triumphant secretary bird stretches outs its wings in a gesture of shelter and rebirth. Clutched in its talons are serpents and bats, symbolising victory over the virus and the perils we’ve all faced during these turbulent times.
Secretary birds are renowned for their courage in hunting snakes, and this COVID-19 Masterwork reminds us that it is through bravery and conviction that we shall overcome.
Completely attuned to the elegant forms created by Somandla's dexterous hands, Ardmore artist Jabu Nene has used the finest of brushstrokes to bring this rich tapestry of feathers, scales and tortoiseshell to life. Her playful use of monochrome tones sees her brush dance to Somandla's rhythms.
The result is an extraordinary Victory Masterwork that is both redolent of a moment in history and a work of art for the ages. As such, it would be a worthy addition to any gallery.
Dimensions: H 94cm; L 48cm; W 43cm