Travels to South Africa, July 2015

In February 2015, I was awarded funding from the University of Brighton to further develop my research into collective remakings of Picasso’s Guernica. This research connects activity in: America, Canada, France, India, Spain, South Africa and the UK. It incorporates four remakings of Guernica, including three large-scale textiles pieces. These are the Remaking of Picasso’s Guernica as a banner created in the UK and India; the Rockefeller Guernica tapestry made in France but on long-term loan to the UN headquarters in New York; this was used in Goshka Macuga’s exhibition The Nature of the Beast (2009) at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, UK and finally the Keiskamma Guernica created in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. A remaking of Guernica as an archive of political activity in the East End of London is also present. This archive was developed throughout the one-year duration of Goshka Macuga’s exhibition The Nature of the Beast (2009 – 10), through the documentation of the use of the meeting space created in the gallery. Also included in this research is a remaking of Guernica as a theatrical production, written by Canadian playwright Erika Luckert.

In July 2015, I travelled to South Africa, to the coastal village of Hamburg where the Keiskamma river meets the ocean. I stayed for two weeks, the first of which I spent talking to people, gaining an insight into the workings of the Keiskamma Trust and its different areas of activity, which include Art, Health, Education, and Music. Spending time with people involved with the Trust in this way was a very powerful and moving experience; I was made to feel very welcome. In the second week I began to film interviews with some of those involved in the workshops that surrounded the making of the large scale Keiskamma Guernica (2010), as well as the people who participated in its making and in the creation of the three smaller-scale Keiskamma Guernicas that have since been created. I took the banner with me on this trip, which was incredibly helpful. It created an opportunity to compare the banner with the Keiskamma Guernica to reflect upon our differing approaches, interpretations and adaptations of Picasso’s Guernica.

Nicola Ashmore

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