Running After Antelope
With my drawing practise I tend to cover broader issues and subjects and I have always drifted from one subject to the next or attempted to combine groups of issues into a collection of drawings.
For this collection, I have chosen to focus on two of the last remaining hunter-gatherer groups in eastern and southern Africa. The Hadza people from northern Tanzania, who have lived a way of life that is little changed for ten thousand years, and the Bushmen or San people, who form many tribes living in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Angola, they are the indigenous people of southern Africa. Both groups of people have suffered greatly due to the ever changing landscape of modern Africa and face many challenges in order to retain their land, their rights, their culture and their way of life.
Within the work I have portrayed the many issues faced by both groups of people. These issues include consumerism, human rights, modernisation, climate change and other issues such as New-age colonialism in regards to mining and land rights.
For example, the drawing Two Portraits depicts a young Hadza woman and a member of the Al Nahyan Royal Family of the United Arab Emirates. In 2006 and 2007, Royals from the United Arab Emirates, along with UAE Safari sought to purchase Hadzabe lands in northern Tanzania to turn into their personal safari playground, after significant media attention and protest the Royals, supported by the Tanzanian Government backed away from this land grab, but if this deal went through, the Hadza, already struggling for survival, would have seen their lives and their land already affected by the change in climate, agriculture and tourism taken from right under them. They had no say in this deal, they weren't allowed to voice their concern, the Government sees the Hadza as people that need to be modernised, merely because of their way of life.The portrait of Holo, a mother of five is shown upside down, but in hyperrealist detail. By doing this, I want to highlight the fact that even portrayed in so much clarity and careful detail, the viewer will be unable to truly focus on the Portrait, her view is distorted, thus representing the view of the Hadza in the modern world, unseen.In contrast with the Portrait of Holo, the member of the Al Nahyan Royal Family is drawn in bold colour, but drawn crudely and simplified. This man might be one of the richest men on the planet, known by millions, but I have drawn him this way to signify that I want to tell the viewer that material wealth and power are not everything in this world, and that his modern way of life is not better, it is worse.
Another drawing, Transmigration sees three Bushmen stretched out across the expanse of the paper, this represents the Kalahari desert, one of the few remaining places in Southern Africa that the Bushmen have been relocated to, the desert is becoming a much harder environment to live off, and as climate change is forcing the Kalahari to get hotter and drier, the desert will spread. In the drawing they are standing amongst blue rocks, the shadows stretching out behind them have transformed into neatly cut grass, this symbolises the suburbanite lawns of the modern world. A world they are slowly being forced the reluctantly enter. They are now stuck between the harsh climate of the desert and dry savannah or the fringes of another society very unfamiliar to them.
I have been using the title Running after Antelope for this collection which comes from author Scott Carrier's story about his passion to attempt to run down a Pronghorn Antelope. His attempt at catching this beast stems from the Endurance running hypothesis, which states that the evolution of certain human characteristics come as a result of hominids adapting to bipedalism. This later evolved onto long-distance running for the purpose of persistence hunting, which is believed to be the earliest form of human hunting. By using a combination of running and tracking to pursue prey to the point of exhaustion, this activity can last for hours and the technique may have already died out, it is thought that only a handful of people are practising this method today, the Tarahumara of northern Mexico and the San Bushmen in the Kalahari. Attached is footage of San hunters performing this ancient technique: (www.youtube.com/watch?v=826HMLoiE_o)
Within this collection I have also chosen to depict the natural world in the form of the Kudu, a species of Antelope. The Kudu and especially the Kudu head acts as a recurring theme and works as something vital to the survival of both peoples but also, the Kudu acts as their connection to the ancient and natural world, which forms the basis to their traditions and their way of life that has existed for thousands of years.
The collection of drawings aims to highlight the problems faced by both groups whilst also honing in on issues of significance that affects the survival of each tribe. I believe it is important to raise awareness to these problems, we could learn a vast amount from these groups of people and i feel strongly that it is an injustice to see these people suffer as a result of modernisation.