At the heart of my work is a search for connections between ancient mythology and advanced theories in science. Tracing these connections begins to reveal that, whereas science once defined itself by its departure from all things mythological/fantastical/speculative, the deeper our contemporary science proceeds, the closer it seems to return to a common cosmological mythological understanding of the universe.
The characters, landscapes and objects in my work operate as carriers of a set of narrative and philosophical musings I sometimes call ‘mythologies of the future.’ I often think of the characters in my work as time travelling, mythological, alternate selves. The landscapes they traverse are simultaneously futuristic and prehistoric.
I also developed an interest in 19th century studio photography. I believe that there is some fantastical/magical/mysterious capturing of a sitter's own impulse to image, imagine, and re-imagine themselves are still all relevant points. The figures in the works are all appropriated from a variety of 19th c photography portraits including Chief S.O. Alonge (in "Beam"), James Barnor (in "Monsters"), Bobson Photography Studio who operated in Johannesburg in the 1960s (in "Choice Assorted"), as well as several anonymous portraits of various unnamed sitters. This latter group of photo references were of interest to me because the photographer only titled their photographs based on generalised/stereotyped descriptions of the sitters' cultural, racial, or ethnic identities such as 'Siamese girl in traditional costume' (in "Growl"), and 'Siamese Queen's maid' (in "Swept"). The figures in "Postcard" are from a family photograph of my own: a photo postcard sent to Kwela's grandfather by their cousin Seedie Sekele while he was stationed "somewhere in Italy" (the description written by him on the back of the photo) during WWII. The background of this particular drawing is an appropriation of a Pierneef painting. "The Ostrich" was the last drawing I did in the series and contains a reference to the Italian Countess of Castiglione who in the late 1800s commissioned a sweeping series of very expensive and spectacularly orchestrated portraits of herself.