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 Bad10 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 […]

Cancelling people, erasing history, burning libraries, & killing souls

Ruth HartleyColonialism, Family, Feminism, Human rights, Installations, Racism, Slavery, StorytellingLeave a Comment

Burying a living soul and the death I was responsible for When Mike walked back into my flat that day back in 1968, he was dead. His face was rigid. His eyes stared blindly. “My father buried me.” Mike spoke as if every word was a stone placed on his own grave. “Dad held a funeral service in the synagogue […]

Lines in the sand erased in the sea of history

Ruth HartleyArt Process, Colonialism, Creativity, History, Power, SlaveryLeave a Comment

‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ There was a regular history exam question at my school that asked students to debate whether ‘the hour made the man or the man made the hour’. It usually related to a period of history that we had just finished studying. For example – did Britain’s survival in WW2 depend solely on Winston Churchill’s […]

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 […]