Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow and the Rock Art of the San
George Stow was a Victorian man of many parts – poet, historian, ethnographer, artist, cartographer and prolific writer. A geologist by profession, he became acquainted, through his work in the field, with the extraordinary wealth of rock paintings in the caves and shelters of the South African interior. Enchanted and absorbed by them, Stow set out to create a record of this creative work of the people who had tracked and marked the South African landscape decades and centuries before him.
Stow’s paintings are interpretations of the art of the San, informed by his own understanding of a particularly turbulent time in South African history and his sense of the tragic demise of the San way of life. This exhibition celebrates his pioneering achievement and reminds us, too, of the richness of the imaginative universe of the San.
A collection of his interpretations of rock art, a selection of his geological maps, documents and field notebooks, some of his poetic works, quotations from his writings on the San and their history as he recorded and interpreted it, as well as some contextual material from the Bleek and Lloyd archive are displayed. The exhibition brings together works from the Iziko South African Museum, the National Library of South Africa and the of Cape Town (UCT). It is curated by Pippa Skotnes and her team at the Centre for Curating the Archive, Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT. A new publication on Stow will be launched at the exhibition.
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