For more than 15 years, leading “Mining Artist” Jeannette Unite has travelled to 25 countries collecting and researching around the industrial “sublime” and the secret, subterranean world of minerals. Mining the earth for her inspiration, she brings these marvellous minerals to the surface, as it were, by incorporating them into large scale, textured artworks on canvas. Working with earth materials, mines and maps, Jeannette Unite’s geological paintings incorporate the metals and matter that defined and continue to shape the mineral and industrial revolution. Jeannette will be hosting her latest exhibition entitled ‘Law & Ore’ at the Young Blood Gallery in Cape Town from 9 February 2015 onwards; an exhibition that explores legislation, geo-spatial diagrams and layers of mineral strata mixed from collections of mine slag, metals and oxides.
Having been concerned with mining activities for nearly two decades, Jeannette Unite has collected soil samples from diamond and platinum mines; minerals such as lead, zinc, uranium, vanadium and titanium from heavy mineral sand mines and processing plants and alluvial prospects. From these she has amassed a considerable collection of various metals, minerals, oxides and industrial matter that represent the lodestone of human development. These supply both inspiration and media for her artworks.
Commenting on minerals and mining, Jeannette Unite states:
‘Everything we use is either from mining or agriculture. The earth is the source of all wealth and dividing it up, measuring it, photographing it from aeroplanes, and mapping the surface of the earth is part of securing the wealth through laws. I only recently realised that the law and legal texts that are embedded into the land determine who owns what. The title deeds, mineral rights and legislation for each gridded quadrant of the earth go back to the old clay tablets of Sumeria, when ownership was cast in stone!’
The Law and Ore exhibition is timed to run concurrently with the 2015 Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) which has featured work by Jeannette in the past, and has previously sponsored her artistic reflection on the industry even though her interpretation is not sycophantic; she merely observes aspects of the industry at work. The Indaba sees 15 000 of the world’s decision makers in the mining industry converge in Cape Town for the world’s most important mining conference pertaining to Africa’s diverse and relatively untapped mineral wealth.
Jeannette Unite is one of six important contemporary artists world-wide who focus singularly on mining, including Edward Burtynsky, David Walker-Barker; Papa Esser from Ghana; Sammy Baloji, who hails from the Gecamines in DRC; and the pioneering Dusseldorf photographers Berndt and Hilla Becher who first documented the mechanical apparatus known as Headgears or Shaft Winding Gears. It is interesting to note that these structures also feature in Jeannette’s works that form part of Law and Ore at Young Blood Gallery.
Law and Ore will run until the end of February 2015. Thereafter, Jeannette embarks on a whirlwind 2015, and will be exhibiting at the Durban Art Gallery KZNSA in the first curated response to Marikana by Carol Brown, Pretoria Art Museum’s Fracking Exhibition and Ellis House in Johannesburg in March and April 2015, respectively. This is followed an ambitious project that takes her around the UK to document the world’s first mining map of an entire country dating to 1815, working closely with several Universities including Exeter and Oxford and The Geological Society in the UK.
CURRENT EXHIBITIONS 2015
- LAW & ORE – Abalone Gallery, Hermanus, 22 November 2014 – Finissage 31 January 2015
- 2015 – Oude Libertas Gallery, Stellenbosch (group show) 21 January – 18 February 2015
- LAW & ORE – Youngblood Foundation Bree Street. 4 February 2015 – 28 February 2015
- Blowing in the Wind – Durban Art Gallery – launch of group Mining show curated by Carol Brown 5 March – 2015
- Fear and Loss: Fracking in the Karoo. – Pretoria Art Museum – group show curated by Katie Du Toit 4 March – 2015
- GEO-SEAM – Open Studio, Ellis House, Johannesburg April – 2015
- 2015 TRAVELLING EXHIBITION Geologic Seam UK
- EXETER – as part of CCANW year of Soil with curator Clive Adams and Martyn Windsor from 22 October 2015 – 22 January 2016
- Oxford Earth Science Institute, Oxford University, UK
- 17th September 2015 mining exhibition to coincide with Chamber Mines Canada – South Africa Indaba in Toronto Canada.