Jenna Burchell Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) 2016 - 2017 | | Art in South Africa
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Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) | Collection of 12 unique artworks, 2016 - 2017

Courtesy of Artist

In late 2015 Burchell began work on a triptych made from ancient rocks found in three prehistoric, geographic locations: the Cradle of Humankind, the Great Karoo, and the Vredefort Dome. This triptych is formed into three collections named after their geographic locations. Burchell chose these sites as they each represent a moment of time wherein the world shifted: they are small and delicate markers of immutable change in our ancient history.

"Although Burchell's [Ancient Rock] Songsmith series is primarily about deep trauma in geological histories and the radical shifts they brought about, they also parallel societal horizon extinctions and trauma. Her work suggests that perhaps by embracing and acknowledging the stories of fractures, shifts and trauma as she has done in Songsmith we can live differently."
- Lucinda Jolly, Business Day

Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) is the first part of the ancient rock triptych. This collection makes tangible the sites ancient evolutionary past as the birthplace of man millions of years ago. Sound was created through Burchell’s ‘Echo of Land’ process. The Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) collection, completed in 2017, consists of ten artworks owned by various private collectors.

Burchell’s rock selection unfolded during an artist residency at the Nirox Foundation in the Cradle of Humankind. She selected rocks based on four predetermined rules:

A rock must be found within the relevant geographic site;
A rock must be naturally fractured in two or more pieces;
The fractured pieces must become a single whole;
A rock must be beautiful in form once made whole.


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