Evocations of the Child: fertility figures from the southern African region
South African National Gallery
Olievenhuis Art Museum Bloemfontein
Johannesburg Art Gallery
Co-curator with Karel Nel
Contributor to catalogue
This traveling exhibition of child/fertility figures from the southern African region was funded by the Standard Bank Foundation and the Johannesburg Art Gallery. The exhibition opened at the Grahamstown Festival of the Arts before traveling to major centers in South Africa.
This exhibition brought together a selection of little known figures from the southern African region, including Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe that have come to be called 'fertility dolls'. More correctly referred to a 'child figures,' these small, usually anthropomorphic forms, evoke the 'wished for child' a woman hopes to bear. They are made by women and used in ceremonial contexts associated with the maturation, motherhood and identity of women. The exhibition was accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue edited by Dr Elizabeth Dell with 21 essays by 15 authors.