Something’s brewing…

by Naretha Pretorius

I went on a shopping spree the other day at Hassim’s Packaging in Durban, and found the most amazing large oval-shaped doilies… I have made a mould of one of the doilies, and can’t wait to see what the cast will look like…

I have taken photographs of the three different doilies, and in Photoshop made a quick composition to see what they will look like if placed next to each other… (see below).  I am thinking of creating a wall display that will resemble that of oval-shaped family portraits that you find displayed in the lounge or hallway in (Afrikaner) family homes.

The shape and size also resembles that of meat platters… less charming… or rather that of serving trays, the work is playing with the idea of ‘serving’ – a duty stereotypically common to that of a well-mannered conservative domesticated woman, and the doilies are of course synonymous with good etiquette in serving tea and cake for guests.  This serving of tea reminds me especially of two key events from my personal history:

  1. Serving of tea and coffee when the ‘dominee’ (minister) does ‘huis besoek’ (a home visit).  Here the family will receive the ‘dominee’ in their lounge, and the mother and daughter will serve him tea and snacks before he will commence with his blessing on the family but also addressing the family of any relevant (family) issues along with a suitable passage from the bible… to prove his point.  A ritual I was didn’t like, I felt very uncomfortable… and maybe so because ‘dominee’ and the father of the household will sit and discuss ‘important matters’ while the wife and daughter makes them all tea…
  2. The other major tea serving event that was a regular custom which goes along with church practices, is the ‘susters’ (sisters) that serves tea to the ‘gemeente’ (church community) after a ceremony… and of course while the ladies prepare them all team, the men will be counting the money they collected and talk (church) business… a conservative patriarchal governance…

It seems that serving etiquette and dress code etiquette will be two dominant themes in my exhibition… Let’s see how this work develops…

Below an idea of the layout of the doilies.  The images will be based on female dress code from the 1950’s and 1960’s, with specific reference to family photographs as showed in previous posts.

example of oval doily series