" I stood outside the Goodman Gallery today, watching the protest – and the sight of stripped-down gallery walls, riot police, mounted police protecting an art gallery was a very sad moment. I’m not taking issue with the protest, but its expression was something that had the power to hurt rather than heal or reconcile.
And I thought I would like to do something that healed me, and that would indicate a need to keep talking about the issues the painting provoked – without resorting to violence, or threats, or intimidation.
This has also been such a masculine argument; so much hard energy, not enough soft energy, not enough care.
I thought it might be nice if you and me – and anyone who wants to join in – spent time over this weekend crafting things out of fabric, in wool, yarn, crochet, thread, felt, shweshwe... And we used these to decorate the trees leading from the start of the march to its finish, at the Goodman Gallery. Think of it as multi-media yarn bombing.
I have spoken to someone with links to local yarnbombers and hope we’ll have something “proper” at the “end” of the route (at the gallery), but I would like to invite you and any of your friends to join me – either on your own, or at my house this weekend – in making something that represents your feelings, and what you’d like to see in the future. Something about peace, love and understanding, as the old song goes.
Also: please don’t share this on social media. This is supposed to be a random act of kindness. A surprise."
So... I grabbed the opportunity. I've never taken part in a protest before, and this seemed like a pretty safe place to start. I plotted my craftbomb, to be made from ribbons in different colours, sewn together by hand - and this was the result (shown being prototyped on a tree in my garden):
I learned a few things from this experience:
1) It does your head in a bit to invest precious time and significant effort in something that you're going to put in a public place, where it will be for at most a day or two, before it is ripped down and thrown away.
2) Creating something in response to a situation makes you think carefully about what brought you to the point of responding (I guess that's the whole point, really). While I don't particularly care about the artist or the painting that caused all the fuss, I do care about the anguish and hate that it caused. I learned so much too - about the memories that the whole thing drew up for so many people. Although it must be said, when I spoke to 'people on the ground', most were of the opinion that it all about PR...
3) I was reminded AGAIN how obsessed the media is with bad news. I think at last count, the whole furore generated R40 million worth of exposure. I haven't seen a news story anywhere about the #LoveBomb. Sad, yes?
4) Sewing is therapeutic.
5) You can find ANYTHING you want at the Oriental Plaza
6) It's important not to take yourselves too seriously. We meet at 05h30 on Monday outside the Woolies at the bottom of Saxonwold. Edgy protest, this: suburban moms gathering in their SUVs outside Woolies to make a statement. 101 Reasons To Love South Africa, I guess. ;-)