Memento Mori (2018)
My work is a meditation on the skull and reflects my interest in the notion of memento mori – the Latin phrase meaning ‘remember, you will die’. My fascination stems from my experience of processing my own mortality. This subject, closely related to Vanitas still life, was prevalent during the Renaissance and 17th century Baroque paintings. The genre featured symbols pointing to mortality, such as the hourglass, extinguished candles, and decaying fruit and flowers - encouraging reflection on the transience of life. Rather than illustrating typical human skulls, my series situates this concept within a South African context, drawing inspiration from antelope skulls indigenous to South Africa. I am mesmerised by these skulls and use their remains as a still life to consider mortality.
My practice is largely experimental, a ‘work in progress’ (much like life), and through repetitive study I contemplate skulls to flesh out these ideas of life and death. My process concerns a constant [inner] struggle to find the balance between retaining and losing control. This involves experimenting with mark-making, continuous line drawings, layering, drawing different angles and testing compositions. The works vary from detailed studies to minimalistic drawings as some works are quick sketches to longer, more considered investigations of form, texture and meaning. The motif signals that now is the time to contemplate the meaning of life. Death gives purpose to life and significance to living – the works subtly urge the viewer not to waste effort on the trivial and not to let time escape them.