Skadubeeld  Daniel Retief



Ntsikana Gallery

‘n Boom gooi altyd ‘n skaduwee. 

A tree always casts a shadow, so too history always casts its imprint. On Welvanpas, during the warm Western Cape summers, the great oaks shield the stinging rays of sun, melting the farmhouse in a deep pool of shade. Windows and walls fragment into pieces and patches in a shadow-play. 

From 300-year-old trunks sprout shadow-branches in winding paths, meandering across the roof and across the stoep. Extending their fingers to mark where generation after generation of my family have lived. Seeping through the windows and into the hallways, threading shadow-maps from the veiled figures hanging on the walls. Branching from grandparents to great- and great-great grandparents. In the flickering light I trace the splintering paths, attempting to draw the outlines from the mantle of my own silhouette. 

As dusk falls in a growing haze, past and present distort in a spectred maze. Contours blur and morph in transience, tangling figures into a sombre overcast. The family photos, matriarchs and patriarchs in gilded frames, reticulate and refract in the window panes. And my reflection dissolves in a penumbra on the farmhouse walls. 

To be cast in the shadows of the past is to be eclipsed by a shade net, a safety net or catch net? In its darkness the world is a ‘skadubeeld’ – a shadow image, a silhouette, a spectre, or one’s own reflection.