October 2014

In this body of work I have used the shipping container as a visual metaphor for the emotional baggage that we carry with us during the course of our life time.

I am the eldest child and spent much of my time as a young toddler on the quiet and deserted Clifton and Llandudno beaches in the Western Cape. For some time I was an only child. The passing ships were my imaginary friends whilst I played on the beach. I wondered where they were coming from and where they were going to and what cargo they were carrying. On the days that we went into Cape Town and I saw the ships in the harbour and all the hustle and bustle of the foreshore it heightened my imagination.

The word “baggage” is emotively loaded and mostly has negative connotations. But not all emotional baggage need be negative. It may be neutral or indeed positive. At all times I use the term baggage with its broader meaning, but am fully aware of the implications.

Apparently most of our emotional baggage is created in our formative years. In other words, we write our own baggage script when we are very young. How ironic. We have our best simple memory capacity up until the age of 3 years of age. By the age of 18 we have forgotten most of it, bar a handful of memories, most of which are prompted by photographs or stories told by adults that were present at the time of the occurrences. We have a better capacity for complex memories, at that age. Yet the matters that have shaped our personalities and are so ingrained and imprinted in our psyches, occurred during the first 3 years of our lives.

Like with all metaphors, things sometimes become a bit muddled up. And therein lies the strength of the medium of art. On occasions, we become the baggage.

We can carry these containers around with us as we please. We can open and close them as we please. We can inspect them as please, and rearrange and discard contents as we please. Or not, we can keep the doors firmly shut and not look inside. We can drag them around with us and they can become a heavy burden.

But there is also some baggage that we have no option but to carry with us. And we have to decide how we are going to carry it. Baggage that we have no control over. Baggage that is forced upon us. We can live in denial or fight it. But ultimately we are still carrying the baggage. What is the most comfortable and safe way to carry it?

Looking at these issues through a visual medium makes it look different; makes us think about things differently; it evokes feelings we were not aware of; it enables us to consider the interstitial spaces between memories.