Towards the end of the 1990’s the art critic Lucia Burger asked me to be part of a group exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, reflecting on the ‘New South Africa’. The artists were to receive some fee towards the manufacture of their artworks and we submitted proposals. At the time I had not yet begun working with Frans Haarhoff’s granite processing outfit in the hills outside Belfast, Mpumalanga and my idea was to be realised in concrete. Unfortunately the exhibition never took place.
At the time of planning for Lucia’s show the romance of the ‘New South Africa’ and its first democratic elections had worn off and many of us who had supported the change began to feel a sense of betrayal. I wanted to provide a quiet seat in the form of a block of solid concrete with the word ‘trust’ cast engraved into it. The block was to be cracked in such a way that sitting on it was still possible.
In the years that followed I formed a healthy relationship with Frans Haarhoff’s granite outfit and made many sculptures in Belfast Black granite.
Over time the performance of the new South African government seemed to go from bad to worse and more and more people became disgruntled. My wife Anél also left me in 2008 and I felt all the more let down. In June, 2012 I realised my old ‘broken trust’ idea in granite for my joint exhibition with land artist Richard Long at the SMAC gallery in Stellenbosch.
Broken trust can be experienced in so many ways dealing with the concerns and the business of life. Our fellow citizens often behave in questionable ways towards us, but somehow we have to let go of our sense of having been deceived. For me, making the work, and sitting on it, is one way of getting over the things that have tripped me up and more importantly, of getting over myself.