Collection: Skin, Bone, Fire - the First Album

Interested in one or more artworks from this collection?

By: Lila Philiswa

South Africa, memory histories, collective frameworks of culture, authorship and agency, abstract

The paintings are from the debut solo exhibition “Skin, Bone, Fire: The first Album”. Through this exhibition, Philiswa explores the physical, mental and spiritual spaces held close by her personal experiences. She focuses on the link methods or story methods of remembering. Philiswa is particularly interested in memory histories and personal identities.


“I ask, can a photo album be as significant, sentimental, valuable, or bring people together
if there are no photographs inside?” (Philiswa Lila)

Ntombentle (2014)

The artwork is a beaded dress. It is meant to capture the notions of marriage, motherhood, purity, virginity and the social expectations that come with being a female or woman.

Portraits II (2019)

In this artwork I reflect on absence of photographs as moments that wait to be contemplated. Each small painting become an opportunity to experience every single step of attending to recollection, interpreting the symbolic narrative of remembrance, of piecing together memories.

1981 (2020)

This artwork is a reference of the empty pages of the old family album. The cardboard pages of the album have yellowed with age, covered in coffee-coloured stains and reddish outlines where photographs were mounted. I am drawn to the scurf marks, dirt spots and finger print smudges – signs of an accumulated time which leaks from its decaying condition

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