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Underneath the carpet of riches (2018)

Colour pencil on Arches, 75 X 105 cm

Price: R12 500

The artisan miners (previously known as illegal diamond miners) of Kimberley in the Northern Cape use heavy cloth, for example carpets to cover the diamond-rich soil they sift in the tailing dumps of the city’s huge diamond mining industry. The carpets prevent sifted soil and the miners’ accompanying dreams of an attainable and unimaginable wealth, being blown away in windy and rainy weather. The collection of magical, but threadbare Aladdin-like carpets covering heaps in the Collville area gives the landscape an eerie feeling, because the magical ambience is contrasted with the impoverished reality and historic consequences of the mining industry. This may make a viewer wonder about the metaphor of “the cave” underneath the carpet of riches.

Coincidently the Persian carpet in this image depicts an image of a lion fighting with a deer-like mythical figure called a qilin, which is a pristine motive originating from the 16th century Persian Design Revolution (see the image below from the Safavid period, Persia). The motive foretells of bravery during times of social unjust, while the carpet itself provokes a public nostalgia. Viewers wonder about the measures of bravery of the women who may have weaved the carpet, previously owned the carpet, or even they who must have once, simply walked over the carpet or touched it.

Detail of a Persian animal carpet depicting a lion and qilin, from Safavid period, Persia (1600s). Hamburg:  Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe. (Source: Public domain)

Thresholds: Eureka