JULIA GREY PLAYS HANDMAIDEN TO GOD, TURNING WORD INTO FLESH AND BACK AGAIN FROM LANGA TO LLANDUDNO. IF WE NEEDED ANY FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE FLOWERING OF THE AFRICAN RENAISSANCE, THIS IS IT.
- Diane Awerbuck, author of Gardening at Night
Cape Town, An Illustrated Poem is a full colour art journal; part travelogue and part personal manifesto involving collage, illustrations and poetry. It is a work of self-discovery; documenting the impressions, visuals, questions and growing pains of a young person coming of age during the South African transition.
The book was published in 2005 by Struik Publishing and launched with an exhibition at the Irma Stern museum. After 2 print runs and 6000 copies sold, it is now out print.
"The sheer effort, and Grey’s attention to detail, the reinvesting of the magical in the most ordinary, appealed to me on such an intrinsic level. If nothing else, I was inspired alone by the force of love behind such a project. If the post-apartheid state creates that tenuous space, where every reckoning of `home’ is found to be problematic at one or another discursive level, then surely it is the most noble of hearts that seek out this precarious ground all the same, in the spirit of creating something good. While Grey employs poetry, the expression of metaphor, to pay tribute to the complex Cape Town, she simultaneously recognizes the potential lack in language, those areas where a thing is beyond the definition of words. Thus, instead of making a `closed’ space of her imagined home, Grey’s use of quilt-like collage serves rather to open up the city spaces. . .
Hers is a work undeniably multiplicitous in spirit as it `quilts’ together pages of beading, Grey’s own watercolour renderings of the city’s landscapes, maps, photographs, lace and ribbons, scraps of upholstery and other fabrics (such as ones of local South African prints), buttons, heavy stitching in bright cottons, the dried leaves and flowers of indigenous plants, feathers, bits of wallpaper, and tokens of everyday life such as RoopkiPane Bindis, Lion matches famous yellow paper, and Rajah Curry Powder packaging, postcards and plane tickets. At the book’s end, on the writer’s blurb, is a photograph of the artist-at-work, cross-legged and armed with a pair of scissors before scattered fragments of the early work, a scrapping of telephone book proportions."
- Jocelyn Teri Fryer (NMM University - masters dissertation)