Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Robert Slingsby, SA



Robert Slingsby is one of the artists in Then & Now: Conversations in Time
Barnard Gallery, CapeTown
May 12 until June 15, 2015.


Crossing the Line, 2014.


“In 2013, I made two trips to visit the remote tribes of the Omo River in Ethiopia. ‘Crossing the line’ was born out of an actual straight line demarcating where forest abruptly ended and ploughed land began. What was once tribal land offering a source of sustenance and livelihood to the indigenous Kara tribe along the banks of the Omo River, was now a cotton farm. I also learned about the soon to be completed Gibe III Dam which will disrupt the natural ebb and flow of the water. Consequently, there’s a line being crossed in the ethical sense too, literally depriving the people of this land of their livelihood. There is also a cultural, societal line being crossed, from indigenous, tribal ways to that of an urban, developed way of life. For the tribes of the lower Omo Valley, there exists a major ecological threat accompanied by an inevitable cultural transition.
robert-slingsbycrossingtheline2014Crossing the Line, 2014.
For me, this line was so significant; crossing it represented going beyond what is ethical. With a population of close to 100 million and a history of famine, Ethiopia is compelled to focus on economic development and needs natural resources and land to do so. The tribes of the lower Omo Valley represent a marginalised minority unable to influence or inhibit the process of development, regardless of the significant value they contribute in terms of their cultural traditions. The irony is that many tribal people welcome development by gaining access to life changing benefits such as water and electricity. The price being paid for this development represents an irreversible line that is being crossed.” (from interview in ArtSouthAfrica, February 2015).
RobertSlingsbyMoneyandGodinhispocket2012Money and God in his Pocket, 2012.


RobertSlingsbyCockedCocked, 2014.

About exhibition:

In line with Barnard Gallery’s ongoing commitment to presenting curated group shows and collaborative projects of work by artists from the gallery’s stable that explore diverse aspects of contemporary art practice; Barnard Gallery is pleased to present Then & Now: Conversations in Time.
As the title of the exhibition suggests Then & Now: Conversations in Time considers notions of time and the space between things prompting comparison between what was and what is. The exhibition presents examples of current or recent projects by selected artists in relation to a previous or what might be considered ‘early work’ from their career. For some of the participating artists, given their already established careers this may represent a number of years between works while for those younger or emerging artists this might represent a matter of months.
Then & Now: Conversations in Time explores the conversations that exist within an individuals work as well as how the various works on the show collectively relate; works produced at different times and places and representing a diversity of attitudes and approaches to the creative process. Including painting, drawing, collage and photography the exhibition considers a variety of mediums; the nature of an artwork’s production and time’s effect and influence on this. Participating artists include Virginia MacKenny, Robert Slingsby, Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi, Lien Botha, Alastair Whitton, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Katherine Spindler, Ryan Hewett, Alexia Vogel and Sarah Biggs.