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Monday, December 22, 2008


Pippa Skotnes releases publication dealing with the San peoples.

From the author of the praised Claim to the Country: The Archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek comes Unconquerable Spirit, a new, equally as beautiful book on the San.

This book, along with Claim to the country…, represents the fulfillment of the wishes of Lucy Lloyd who, shortly before her death in 1914, expressed the hope that one day her and Bleek’s notebooks of |xam and !kun texts, as well as the painted copies of rock paintings by George Stow, would see full publication.

It has taken almost a century for this publication to take place – a long time indeed in view of the significance of the work – yet it is really only in this century, given the possibilities of digital technology, that such a vast archive could have become widely accessible.

George Stow was a Victorian man of many parts - poet, historian, ethnographer and prolific writer. A geologist by profession, he became acquainted through his work in the field, with the extraordinary wealth of rock art paintings in the caves and shelters of the South African interior.

Enchanted and absorbed by them, Stow set out to create a record of this creative work of the people who had tracked and marked the South African landscape decades and centuries before him. Unconquerable Spirit reveals for the first time the beauty and scope of his labours.

George Stow’s paintings are more than just copies of what he found on the rocks. They are interpretations of the art of the San, informed by his own understanding of a particularly turbulent time in South African history and his sense of the tragic demise of the San way of life. This book celebrates his pioneering achievement and reminds us, too, of the richness of the imaginative universe of the San.

Pippa Skotnes has a Master of Fine Art and a Doctor of Literature degree from the University of Cape Town where she is now Professor of Fine Art and Director of the Centre for Curating the Archive at the Michaelis Schools of Fine Art.

She studied art, archaeology and the book arts, and has published several essays on the rock art of the San. She is the author and editor of a number of books, including Miscast: negotiating the presence of the Bushmen (1996), which accompanied a major exhibition on the colonial history of the San at the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, Heaven’s things (1999), and Claim to the Country: the archive of Lucy Lloyd and Wilhelm Bleek (2007).

She has also published a number of private press books, including Sound from the thinking strings (1991) and Lamb of God (2003-8), which is, in part, a narrative inscribed on the bones of horses. She has exhibited her work in many different parts of the world.

Unconquerable Spirit: George Stow’s History Paintings of the San by Pippa Skotnes is published by Jacana Media in hardcover. Recommended Retail Price: R350 - EAN/ISBN-13: 978-0-8214-1869-7