Songlines are an ancient cultural concept, a memory-based motif perpetuated through traditional storytelling modalities such as oral lore, poetry, painting, singing and dance. Songlines identify landmarks, often evoking how the features of the land were created and named during the “Dreaming”, during which the ancestral Spirits traveled across the Earth, created and named trees, rocks, waterholes, animals and other parts of their natural environment.
Echoing this ancient tradition, Samson Mnisi and Thokozani Mthiyane mark their own trails, creating maps of poetry and pigment that depicting their personal journeys, telling their own stories using a common lexicon of language and image. Samson’s work, which is influenced by his grandmother (a diviner and herbalist), “evokes spiritual connections and demonstrates a deep understanding of the language used”, while Thokozani’s work embodies a ritualistic practice of making poetry visible, with symbols that are derived from a secular catholic education and upbringing.
While both artists may speak markedly different languages, this exhibition highlights the relationship of reciprocity and fundamental commonalities that exist between these two storytellers.