Laura de Harde
The intimate minutiae of traditional portraiture is informed by Laura de Harde’s research into old archives for her Doctorate in History of Art: ‘Over the last three years I have visited numerous archives in Zimbabwe and South Africa. This particular project started in a museum storeroom in Zimbabwe in 2015, when I discovered an old trunk filled with photographs. Among the photographs were three black-and-white portrait photographs taken of an anonymous woman in her twenties. The faded signature of the photographer remains the only clue that there was once a context to these objects. I am fascinated by the ability of the archive to simultaneously reveal and conceal the objects within its possession. Through a process of close looking I paint and re-paint these and other portraits, using ink and bleach to explore the sites of exposure and concealment of the subject matter. The medium has a fluidity that is unpredictable and nearly impossible to control, despite my best efforts to the contrary. The bleach also continues to react with the ink and the paper even after the work is “finished”, which is in direct opposition to my desire to capture the found object (photograph) and preserve it.’ Laura de Harde is currently in the third year of her PhD, contributing to the NRF funded project: “The Frobenius Archive in the southern African landscape”. She has participated in a number of group shows at various galleries and artist programmes in Johannesburg; In Toto Gallery, Art Space (Lizamore and Associates), Assemblage and most recently, the group show, “Yiull’s Shoppe of Curiosities” (2016).