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Hard Pressed

Artwork date(s): 2009

Rosalind Cleaver

Medium: Mixed media
Measurements: 230mm x 170mm x 100mm (approx)
Edition: Unique

Type: South African Artists Book

Place publication: (Johannesburg, RSA)
Publisher: The artist
Pages: unpaged

Reference noteThe artist states:

Hewitt's Ghost frog is a critically endangered, endemic species highly adapted to the swift-flowing, permanent mountain streams of the Elandsberg range in the Eastern Cape. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the greatest threat to the Hewitt's Ghost frog is its loss of habitat through afforestation.

The Elandsberg slopes and its sensitive riparian zones are covered by commercial pine forests. Take-up of water and build-up of plant litter in the rivers (a problem further exacerbated by fallen, dead or burnt trees) from these exotics and the degradation of the riparian zone through past inappropriate forestry practice pose a serious threat to the Hewitt's Ghost frog.

Wood harvested from pine forests such as those of the Elandsberg is used in commercial paper production where, through mechanical and chemical processes, the pine tree is transformed into ‘the page'. This artist's book interrogates the transgressions of this page (as environmental agitator) while probing its boundaries (limitations).

The book is in the form of a compact flower press. The covers are made from pine plywood and the pages are of heavy paper reminiscent of that used in a press. On each page is a rubbing taken from a black-and-white image of the pine forest, or of an enlarged image of paper fibres. On the verso are drawings of different aspects of the pine tree and the pine forest. Some pages have coloured inserts onto which drawings of the tadpole development are attached.

The arrangement of the images hint at the way the frog is trapped in the pine forests. The tightening action of the press alludes to the way humans, through their cultivation of pine plantations for paper production, have put pressure on the limited Ghost frog population.

Exhibition notesIncluded on the exhibition 'Transgressions and Boundaries of the Page', exhibited at WOORDFEES 2010. Archive Room in JS Gericke Library, University of Stellenbosch, 1st - 6th March 2010; The Gallery of the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, 15th April - 13th May 2010; the FADA Gallery, Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg, 12th – 30th July 2010.

Ref: DP/77

Images courtesy Wessie van der Westhuizen NWU
Total images: 5

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