Close To My Heart

Year: 1998
Materials: Steel, oil, acetate, glass
Housed: Sold

Close to My Heart is connected to a series of work that is about photography and life in the Niger Delta.

There is a photograph of flames from an oil well sandwiched in glass container which has oil in it. This is held by a woman dressed in traditional costume as if showing off something important.

Kalabari people generally display photographs in public when someone close has died. (The dead person is shown in good health in an enlarged photograph). Generally the person holding the photograph is related to the deceased. There is an added emotion for the observer when they see the connection in the resemblance of the displayed image and the person carrying it.

It is the emotional content of holding such a photograph which is also my home (I am Kalabari) which inspired this work. My peoples’ health is being damaged and our environment is being polluted by the extraction of oil in this manner. As a piece of work, I like the combination of old and new. Acetate, oil, glass added to a traditional African woman. This combination is very real for me as an African living in these changing times. Nothing stays still.

Discussing this work with Sokari she mentioned that she was embarrassed by the title, perhaps it was too romantic, too soppy. She could not be further from the truth. The title like the sculpture has a poignancy which goes beyond the romantic.

David Jacobbson

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