David Krut Projects Cape Town


Virginia MacKenny
Waymarker, Exhibition Invitation ,


Montebello Design Centre, 31 Newlands Avenue, Newlands, 7700


Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10:00 – 17:00 | Saturday 10:00 – 14:00 | Closed Sunday, Monday and public holidays


Virginia MacKenny at David Krut Projects Cape Town

In response to her deepening concern at our disconnection from the natural world, artist Virginia MacKenny recently spent six weeks walking along the French section of the ancient pilgrimage route commonly known as the Camino. Dedicating her walk to the Earth and all living beings, MacKenny followed the Via Lemovicensis, a lesser-trod route on the Way of St James ending in Santiago de Compostella. Her aim, rather than to reach any particular destination, was to devote both the time and the action of walking to making contact with the earth in a literal act of grounding.

While she sees this walk as an artistic act in its own right she also responded to artistic tradition by carrying with her a limited palette of blue watercolours. Making an image a day on a postcard size piece of paper with the intention of sending these back to South Africa, MacKenny gestures both to the history of travellers recording their journeys in the days before the camera as well as Susan Hiller’s idea that creative work is a form of 'letters home'. Recording both the outer and inner topography of her journey, MacKenny’s emphasis is on treading lightly, seeking an artistic practice that does not just record or translate experience, but one that is a means to re-enliven both herself and her engagement with the world around her.

She exhibits the work produced on the walk and other paintings reflecting her considerations in her exhibition 'Waymarker'.

This project follows on from MacKenny’s ongoing interest in examining the intersection of different visual conventions (illusionism and flatness), and the conflation of potentially oppositional vocabularies which provide a locus for exploring perception. Her works also investigate ‘solastalgia’. The combination of solacium (comfort) and algia (pain) infers an emotional disquiet that results from nostalgia firmly rooted in the now. The pain of nostalgia comes from taking comfort in the things that have given one pleasure in the past, but realising that those things are no longer. Solastalgia, however, indicates a present that is becoming a past before one’s very eyes; the environment, which we imbue with so much meaning, is disappearing as we watch it.

MacKenny's paintings cause emotional (solastalgic) disquiet as a result of their sense of alienation and isolation: their dream-like quality speaks of a fragile reality that is fast becoming a fantasy. MacKenny chooses to use everyday objects to express these concerns because, too often, the big stories and the grand gestures appear to us outside our personal worlds. What MacKenny aims to do is to bring the big concerns back to quotidian reality.


04 November 2012 - 01 December 2012