Award-winning SA artist Lady Skollie exhibits work at Norval Foundation

Groot Gat is an eye-opening exhibition of work by the winner of the 2022 Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art. View it in Cape Town until 15 September 2024

By Debbie Hathway

The Groot Gat exhibition, curated by Tayla Hollamby and Standard Bank Gallery, features Lady Skollie’s exploration of the intricate histories of the San, Khoi, and Griqua peoples. It focuses on themes of identity and the struggles of reclaiming the Cape Coloured community’s lost heritage. Through her artistic persona, Lady Skollie boldly addresses issues of identity, sexuality, and social dynamics within the South African context. The exhibition showcases 23 pieces, including four new works.

Lady Skollie, originally known as Laura Windvogel, was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1987. Growing up in the post-apartheid era, she experienced firsthand the gaps in her heritage as a Coloured woman in Cape Town. In her homecoming exhibition, Groot Gat, she embarks on a personal journey, paying tribute to her San, Khoi, and Griqua ancestry. She creates a fantastical world free from colonial influence, a world filled with vibrant cave drawings untouched by time and vandalism, a world that resonates with her personal struggle and triumph.

Something Sweet

Lady Skollie explains her pseudonym: “I want to be a mouthpiece. I’m that dirty auntie SKOLLIE who says what you’ve been thinking but never admitted to… coaxing things out of you with a bright and sunny disposition. Humour is a vehicle for social change.”

This exhibition is the third in a series commemorating Lady Skollie’s 2022 win of the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Visual Art. Established in 1981, this annual award honours exceptional and emerging artists across various disciplines, including visual art, dance, jazz, music, theatre, and poetry. Lady Skollie joins the esteemed list of past recipients of the Visual Art Prize, including William Kentridge, Berni Searle, Jane Alexander, and Blessing Ngobeni.

The exhibition’s title, Groot Gat, refers to Boesman’s Gat, a freshwater cave in Kimberley, and highlights the significant historical gaps within the Cape Coloured communities. Lady Skollie’s works challenge viewers with profound questions about identity, belonging, and overlooked historical narratives. Her art invites deep reflection on personal roots, aspirations, and self-definition within the broader societal context. Engaging with Lady Skollie’s work encourages viewers to explore these complex issues and consider their place in the wider narrative of society.

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