During the interval at South Hill Park gigs, we usually pop round the corner from the Wilde Theatre to the Mirror Gallery. Always a lottery as to what you’ll find. Tonight we find little leather houses suspended from the ceiling and tinkling blinds on the windows.
This exhibition of delicate porcelain and terracotta objects is influenced by Kim Bagley’s experience of growing up in KwaZulu-Natal and by her interest in exploring post-apartheid identities through clay-as-skin metaphors.
Kim Bagley’s ceramic Extermination Tents are inspired by the large tarpaulins pest control companies use when fumigating suburban houses for wood boring insects in the port city of Durban. With these tents the artist would like to draw attention to the sometimes uncomfortable relationship between the private and the public, and, the past and the present. These are constantly negotiated in the construction of group identities, including ascribing blame and liability. Considering the politics and practicalities of housing and migration for Africans globally, an allusion is made to the blurring of seemingly distinct ideas of permanence and transience in informal settlements, refugee camps and affluent suburbs.
In the Tag and Herd series, cattle and cattle metaphors are the starting point. Plastic tags used to mark cattle in commercial farming take on new meaning and an abstract quality in Bagley’s ceramic versions. Cattle are special to many people in the KwaZulu-Natal region. Once again, the artist is exploring identity, authorisation and ownership with this delicate and beautiful medium.
Kim Bagley grew up in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. She studied ceramics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg and at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. She is now based at 318 Ceramics at the Farnham Pottery.
The above information is only on the website and not in the gallery so all you know is that the installation is called “Extermination Tents”. Without any of the background information, it’s impossible to work out what Kim is trying to represent. Floating leather ghosts? Who are they exterminating? Intriguing at the time.
I did find the curtain of porcelain cattle tags enchanting, like a massive wind chime: