Saturday, 29 November 2014

8.10.14 Kasese Museum, Herbalist and Artist Talk

The tree used for putting on the grave is called ‘Olumwanyi’ (singular) and ‘Emimwanyi’ (plural).  This symbolises a grave and that people should keep away from.

Eria said this tree is also used for marking boundaries between land – therefore symbolising keep out.

Couldn’t get internet today, depends on the weather and time on the day!

Went out with David to look at the Kasese Museum which turned out to be a stack of shelves in a corner of a craft shop, but as l discovered there was a bit more to it than that, although very mixed.  A few knives, chicken baskets, bellows, grinding stones, stools for king/chiefs and domestic smaller bottoms, storage jars – some for cooking usually with lids made of clay, ones without handles generally storage of water (or beans, etc) and those used for herbal medicine with handles and a stripy one also used by herbalists – crafts people very much linked with making objects like this for herbalists and even witch doctors.  Other items were snake python skins mainly – a very badly stuffed leopard, a model of a gorilla and a sort of model of a lion cub under the table.  A banana leaf container for long term storage of maize.  Bark cloth mallets.  Milk container – old and new (but maybe more for the tourist – are they used seriously now by people bought here or in the market?)

Then we had a very hot shop Perlucy’s groceries but also yams for me to cast, one with rat teeth marks.  Also purchased a rat trap which was very shakey but full of character for  10,000/-

Before this l picked up some seed pods which look like mini trees or bushes and wondered whether they would burn out in a casting.  Will perhaps walk around tomorrow and pick up things of interest.

On the way back we saw a lady herbalist with colourful bottles of liquid on sagging shelves and around the back she was boiling up two sorts of bark to make some medicine.

Gave a lecture about my work, which caused a lot of discussion between us, which was really good. Winnie asked some more penetrating questions, likewise Emmanuel, Eria and David.  Winnie noticed that the work has got further away from African content/style in recent times.  They were interested to see how l had taken ideas from African ethnography and re-interpreted it in terms of my own work to show.  E confirmed the idea that, African religious objects were not seen as art by the Africans – Western view of course of ethnographic objects becoming art and critical evaluation and debate by the West.  There was a bit of debate about the ‘non-object and thingness’ as related to art history to explain this further eg. Minimalism to performance art, doing away with the object altogether, and the artist becoming the artwork itself eg. Yoko Ono with the public cutting pieces of clothing from her body and left vulnerable.  Through to more philosophical thought about reality and illusion eg. Plato’s cave idea.

We will go to meet an elder tomorrow at 2pm to talk about stories and past history.  Tomorrow is Independence Day so it is a holiday.

Friday we will meet Johnson to discuss going on safari to Queen Elizabeth Park on Sunday.  Monday we/I will do the workshop and questionnaire with the founders and document with photos and text.

Other things mentioned after the talk:

They were saying that they didn’t think there was a secret society such as the Giriama Gohu Society in Bakonjo.

David, when introduced to the next project/workshop concerning objects of importance that they might bring in told us about the ‘dog’ that he made using sticks and various materials, which came alive to him when he moved it about like dog and the excitement of making this – his parents often told him off for spending time doing this.

Plants can be totems as well as animals – animals were introduced by the chief (or king) to reduce the number of animals killed – there still seems to be a respect amongst people to live in tandem with the environment and what it offers.  However there will always be hunters – today a Mongoose (stripy) was killed by hunters on the land with three big dogs.

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