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Arranging Retrieved Memories

Fine arts student Georgina Calder recently held an exhibition: 'Arranging Retrieved Memories' at the Jack Heath Gallery, in Pietermaritzburg.

Calder's work is shaped around her memories of her childhood in the city. She uses the weaver's nest to serve as a metaphor for her memories. Weavers build very large, intricate nests and are common to the area.

Calder explored archival practice and methods of retaining information. She mimicked the process of memory, which can be seen in the way she collects, alters and then reinterprets and displays the birds' nests using the ceramic medium, which follows a similar sequential process to that of memory.

"I began to encode objects with metaphors, which represented my memories. These were precious memories as they were pre-loss, and I became increasingly aware of their fragility," she explained. "The use of metaphors also offered me ways of incorporating sensitive and private information that I did not want displayed explicitly. These came in the form of local birds and their nests."

The body of work stems from a series of experiences centred on the loss of things and people as a young adult, resulting in hyper-awareness of the impermanence of everything in life. "I see this body of work as an exploration of the ways to memorialise my memories," said Calder.

Calder, who specialises in ceramics, glass and embroidery, presented a large ceramics installation and says she intentionally avoided "conventional (to the arts) display techniques".

She found parallels between the ceramic medium and memory and observed how, in the making of ceramic ware, the process of making was recorded by the plastic clay, and then permanently embedded in the fired ceramic body.

Through her artwork, she conveys awareness of the significance of memory, especially in relation to family history and one's identity. "The exhibition appealed to many and created awareness of their personal memories and the fragility of them, and how location and memory shapes one's identity," Calder added.

Words: Melissa Mungroo