Blame it on the man in the brandy barrel – Admiral Nelson

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Apartheid, Art, Books, Colonialism, Family, identity, Migration, Politics, Power, Racism, South Africa, The Shaping of Water, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, When I Was Bad11 Comments

Art and storytelling 200 years later by a distant descendant. Born into the British Empire during the Second World War in a colonial country that no longer exists, I’ve been flung around in a turbulent vortex of political and personal change. My art and my writing are the ways I hang on to the world spinning around me. I have […]

Mary Wollstonecraft, nude statues & feminism

Ruth HartleyArt, Education, Feminism, Slavery8 Comments

Mary Wollstonecraft naked A statue to honour Mary Wollstonecraft, created by Maggi Hambling and commissioned by Mary on the Green, has been erected at Newington Green. It depicts a small, stern-faced, naked female figure with a bush of hair on her pubic mound rising out of swirling silver shapes and it has caused a great deal of outrage and criticism […]

Mpapa Gallery, westernised art and tribal heritage.

Ruth HartleyArt, Colonialism, Mpapa GalleryLeave a Comment

An interesting paper Gijsbert Witkamp has written an interesting paper on his blog Art in Zambia about Henry Tayali, and Fackson Kulya, two artists I knew through my work at Mpapa Gallery when Bert was away in Europe between 1979 and 1988. Bert describes Henry as an ‘academic’ artist and Fackson as a ‘folk artist’. This might describe the difference […]

Beauty, culture, colonialism and the purpose of art

Ruth HartleyArt, Art Process, Colonialism, Creativity, Installations, Religion3 Comments

Can standards of beauty be imposed on artists? What is beauty and is it an essential part of art? Is there such a thing as a universal standard of beauty in art? I ask because the questions are relevant to discussions about the impact of colonialism on indigenous cultures. That’s an enormous subject and there won’t be any quick or […]

Attempted murder, political art and Mpapa Gallery

Ruth HartleyApartheid, Art, Mpapa Gallery, Politics4 Comments

Failing brakes We were heading home after collecting our new Ford company car in Johannesburg which was then a dreadful place of police brutality, political protests and necklacing. Our long journey to Zambia was planned via a family stop in the Zimbabwe Lowveld. Clearing customs at Beit Bridge had taken hours so I was giving my husband a break from […]