INSTALLATION OF PIGMENT SWATCHES

'GRONDSTOF'

This is an artist’s collection of oil colour swatches. It is painted with pigments extracted from earthy substances found on the ground such as earth, clay, soil, ochre, sediment, sand, bricks and ash. Some were gathered by the artist herself and others were gifts from friends and family.

‘Grondstof’ is the Afrikaans word for raw material, however a direct translation would read ‘ground-dust’. The artwork Grondstof brings homage to the potential of the seemingly mundane substance of dirt or earth. Human culture (e.g. architecture, agriculture and arts such as rock-art, ceramics and painting) is so dependent on this common material that earth is often taken for granted - we dust the dirt from our clothes and scrape the mud from our shoes.

 

Grondstof celebrates earthy matter as a type of alchemical materia prima - a starting point for the process of making. James Elkins describes the materia prima as the raw material that the alchemist and artist use to start their transformative processes with. Any ‘inchoate mass’ can be the substance from which form emerges (Elkins 1999:80). He writes that materia prima is ‘both nothing (nothing yet, nothing that has been formed) and everything (everything in potentia, all the things that wait to exist)’ (1999:84). To start a creative process with mud echoes the belief that we ourselves are made from ‘the dust of the earth’ (Genesis 2:7).

Sources: Elkins, J. 1999. What painting is. New York: Routledge.

 © 2019 by Klara-Marié den Heijer

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Klara-Marié 
den Heijer