Artist Series

Mellaney Roberts

Somewhere Inbetween And Not Represented | 2021

In South Africa, the term ‘Coloured’ defines a community as racially mixed and describes a hybrid community. The ambiguous nature of the Coloured identity, coupled with the absence of recorded histories and unambiguous identification with collective cultural codes, results in the representation of identity becoming challenged and borderline. This hybrid identity makes it difficult to reflect on a specific culture and social circumstances. When trying to imagine yourself differently, perceptions of identity and community become more difficult to pin down. This process can become painful.

As a Coloured, in the collective memory of my story, I always felt like an invisible individual trapped between Black and White classifications. Therein lies an untold story of being somewhere between and not represented, creating the feeling of ‘not-belonging’. Through constructing narratives of lived experience, hybrid communities can challenge dominant stereotypes and subvert discourses of otherness and difference.

My body of work focuses on presenting ceramic sculptures depicting the fluid shift of borders. I use borders as a metaphor for the way that our identity transforms as we experience various spaces. My ceramic sculptural forms are often cut, pierced, or demarcated showing the divisions in cultural differences. The divisions emphasise how the parameters of identity are often blurred and how an object’s placement in space can reference things other than itself, acting as a memory trigger.

My intuitive response to clay enlists the rich and multileveled reference that ceramics has as a medium, evoking the permanence and impermanence associated with time.


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