by Jascy-Leigh Edom
My body of work is a visual manifestation of my childhood memories, as it relates to the matriarchal and maternal lineage through the lens of Coloured female identity. Mohamed Adhikari (2005) describes Coloured identity by stating “in South Africa, the term Coloured has a specialized meaning and does not refer to black people in general as it does in many other contexts, most notably in Britain and the United States. It instead refers to a phenotypically varied social group of highly diverse social and geographical origins.”
I grew up with a strong maternal influence, in the form of my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. From a child’s perspective, they all seemed divine in a sense, each with their own virtuous qualities. From my traditional homemaker great-grandmother to my rebellious, untamable grandmother and her only daughter, my independent strong-willed mother. As I entered womanhood myself, I began to notice how they have influenced me and my growth and the cracks in the divine started to come to light. All of these women are flawed, each passing on a different variation of trauma on to the next, culminating with me, my mother’s only daughter.
My work aims to portray the blurry nature of my childhood memory and generational trauma, painted in tea. The use of tea references a personal symbol of maternal love and comfort in my family. It’s also murky and sticky, it ferments and can be sickeningly sweet, alluding to the complicated nature of the relationship between a mother and daughter and the complicated matriarchal relationship in my family. The images are taken from old family albums and displayed to resemble a portrait gallery that one might find in a home. The nature of this display aims to highlight the complicated nature of family dynamics and how love can be so closely linked to hate, comfort to pain and past to present. With this work, I aim to shed light on the underrepresented demographic of Coloured women in South Africa by bringing together the traditional family matriarchal figure: the modern women, the rebels, mothers and sisters that have contributed to my growth. All of these women have influenced me in different ways. Each artwork is unique, with varying depths, marks, lines and stains much like these women and the marks they’ve left on my life, and the diverse nature of the Coloured community in South Africa. The focus is on the amalgamation of various cultures, races and borders that were intercepted to create Coloured people, and the rich history that has been lost or stolen overtime. This is directly linked to the generational trauma experienced in coloured families and the burdens carried by women. Through the mark-making process of carving, I’ve illustrated the wounds and stains left on the women in my family and by using tea, a symbol of warmth and comfort that simultaneously has European colonial ties, it references the complicated nature of the coloured community, family dynamics and the role of women. More specifically, in my familial context.