Based on inspiration drawn from the mining industry, a book has been released by Cape Town-based artist Jeannette Unite titled Terra, which showcases her mining-inspired artwork.
In her art, Unite explores the ambiguous relationship between mining as the cornerstone of the history, economy and development of South Africa and its social and human dimensions.
Both the materials of mining and its characteristic forms are transformed to express feeling as much as they record the way things look.
Arts writer and investigative journalist Ivor Powell, in one of his notes in the book, describes it as “mark-making on steroids or maybe in a state of grace”,
“The inter- play that Unite creates between the shapes of industrial development and the previsual energy that erupts out of the earth and the spaces in between is both charged with high drama and shot through with poignant ambivalence.”
The book is published by SoSo Press.
“The art illustrated in the book was inspired by various mining imagery, such as headgear and prospecting pits. Drawing inspiration from mining landscapes and spaces, I have been able to create artworks that acknowledge what is happening in the world of mining,” says Unite.
She has created visual images by using paint and glass, which she makes herself.
Unite collects mine tailings and industrial material, which she integrates into glass. The artist also incorporates diamondiferous materials, minerals, metal oxides and sands to create her works of art.
“Realising that, as artists, we are end-users of what is produced from mining, I am acknowledging what is happening around us through my works, while drawing inspiration from the mining world.
“We are the end-users of minerals from mining and I have showcased that, using my own pastels and paint; I then bring in ideas of history, ecology and the economy to create a visual experience.”
The illustrated 192-page monograph was edited by Powell and academic, arts writer and curator Andrew Lamprecht.
Reproductions of Unite’s significant output are accompanied by peer-reviewed essays and shorter commentaries that contextualise the art. The contributors include lecturer, philosopher and writer Dr Ashraf Jamal, University of the Free State Department of Geology geochemistry lecturer Professor Marian Tredoux, Mail & Guardian online editor Chris Roper and opera composer and producer Bongani Ndodana-Breen.