To be a woman is to be afraid, a lot of the time. I live in a country with very high levels of rape and violence against women, and I have spent many nights lying in the dark, in the city, listening fearfully for signs of a threat. I am privileged: I don’t live in a shack, and I don’t have to walk to where I need to get to be, like so many other women in South Africa. For them, fear is ambient and ever-present.
I have also spent many nights in the bush, listening to the sounds of the night, and wondering what it must be like to be an animal afraid of being hunted. How do predators see the world of darkness when everything else in it is afraid of them. So I have tried to imagine what it is like to see in the dark, to have teeth and claws, and to have no fear.
To honour 16 days of activism against gender violence, this is a project that brings together wildlife art and activism. A portion of sales of the art in this project will go to Lawyers Against Abuse, an NGO which works to ensure that the justice system works for victims of gender-based violence in South Africa.
All of these works are painted in a medium intimately associated with women’s bodies: lipstick and eyeliner. I have painted with lipstick for the past 11 years; you can find out more about my art here. All of the animals in this project are female, and, for the most part, they do not know what it is like to live in fear. With the exception of the eagles, these animals are nocturnal, and others live in fear of them.