from the Woods - Jonathan van der Walt

From the Woods To The Soil – A Solo Exhibition by Jonathan van der Walt

From The Woods to the Soil

From the Woods To The Soil – A Solo Exhibition by Jonathan van der Walt

Published On: March 18, 2024

“From the Woods to the Soil” examines identity, legacy, and cultural practices in democratic South Africa.

Jonathan van der Walt, the 2024 recipient of the Artist-in-Residence programme at the William Humphreys Art Gallery (WHAG) and associate arts lecturer at Nelson Mandela University, is completing his residency at WHAG with a solo exhibition titled “From The Woods To The Soil.” Over the years, artists from across the country have been invited to make and exhibit their works at WHAG as part of this programme that honours the memory of the late Dumisani Mabaso.

Van der Walt’s show explores the complexities of his white African identity and takes a critical look at heritage, culture, and belonging in modern South Africa. It will be on display alongside works by three notable 2013 Artist-in-Residence alumni: the late Dzunisani Maluleke, Lebohang Sithole, and Sizwe Khoza.


Born and reared in South Africa with an Afrikaans surname and no direct ancestral ties to Europe, van der Walt has struggled with a sense of cultural detachment despite living in a country known for its cultural diversity. His exhibition provides a forum for challenging traditional emblems of history and confronting the complexities of cultural identity.

Against the backdrop of National Heritage Day, which is frequently reduced to the media-driven spectacle of National Braai Day, van der Walt embarks on a journey to investigate the cultural meaning of braai. This investigation goes beyond the culinary arena, interpreting braaiing as a ceremonial activity that aims to unearth deeper personal meaning beneath this seemingly everyday habit.

Through his exhibition, van der Walt deftly navigates the intersections of decoloniality and post-digital art practice, inviting viewers into a raw and emotional exploration of self and belonging. His works represent the continual process of self-discovery and cultural reclamation in a postcolonial South African context.

Reflecting on his experience, van der Walt states, “Inspired by the multifaceted nature of the braai as a cultural space and ritualistic practice, the exhibition challenges viewers to contemplate their own relationship to heritage and identity in a postcolonial context, and to confront the scars of colonialism in order to engage in the process of cultural reconciliation and reinvention.”

Jonathan van der Walt’s solo exhibition promises to provoke thought, spark conversation, and inspire a deeper reflection on the intricacies of identity and heritage in contemporary South Africa.

The exhibition is curated by WHAG’s Chief Curator, Chepape Makgato. The opening reception will be on the 26th of March, and the exhibition will run until the 15th May 2024.

Event Information:

From: 2024-03-26
Until: 2024-03-26