Old Wine Cellar, Spier Wine Farm, R310 Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2023
Thursday 9th November, 2023 – Wednesday 31st January, 2024
Pippa Hetherington’s departure point for the Interlaced Portrait series is of shared history from the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and what the universal engagement between an inherited past and reconciliation with one’s own present can be. Inspired by the materiality of artworks and personal histories of artists from the Keiskamma Art Project in relation to her own, she uses photography and textile as a way of questioning the role of image making in truthful history-telling and asks what may be cloaked, revealed or hidden.
For Hetherington we are a collage of stories – a matrix of past, present and future – interwoven. Each of the protagonists is wearing, in their own way, the same garment, Interlaced – The Dress. This garment is a type of self-portrait that Hetherington produced before making the portraits. Inviting friends to be part of the process the dress gets transformed through the characters, each of them adding their own layer onto the meaning of the fabric. She takes the personal into the communal and collective by juxtaposing African shweshwe and colonial English fabric and uses found shards of British crockery and military buttons excavated from the 100 year war (1779 - 1878), also known as the Eastern Cape Wars of Dispossession.
The Interlaced Portrait series play with the perception of the photograph as evidence of truth and agency and she sees the process “as a way of connecting to others’ pain and psychic conflict, a way of listening to the ways people from different backgrounds experience the weight of personal and social history.”
By distorting, fragmenting and then reassembling the portraits in a weaving technique, Hetherington looks at how memory is constructed, and how cutting into an image can feel violent but the act of repairing, weaving and stitching can be restorative. Having worked alongside, and in collaboration, with artists from Keiskamma, she appreciates and has learnt the acts of sewing and suturing as healing forces, at the same time leaving scars visible as a gesture of an ongoing conversation.