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DBL: Exhibition Histories

Hunting bags (Audio)



Hunting bags (Audio)


Dr Patricia Davison

Date Created

28 January 2021


Personal interview


"I met Pippa quite a long time before 'Sound from the Thinking Strings' and I knew she found the museum really interesting. In those days you could climb over the wall between the art school and the museum, before the new building. Pippa would climb up a little ladder and over the wall and come to taxidermy to draw bones and other things. She especially loved the very old exhibits. We got to know each other. There was a conversation going. We weren't planning anything in particular, but I just found her way of looking at things stimulating. It wasn't so much a curatorial intervention then as simply a way of looking at objects that made me look at them differently, even though I was very familiar with them. I remember the very first time that Pippa came to the ethnographic store and we looked at the skin bags (the San hunting bags that women carry, the beautiful ones) together. These were looked after with utter care and beautifully laid out on acid free tissue. Nobody had however, looked at them in the way Pippa looked at them, which was to see their beauty really... She was also able to relate them to the folklore and the stories which she knew from the Bleek and Lloyd archive, which spoke of these bags as animate. If you had one of these little hunting bags made from the skin of a small antelope, for instance, you would be able to converse with it, as if it was the animal. There was that kind of connection.

I therefore had a variety of these types of imaginative interactions with Pippa, and it was an absolute pleasure to see the collection looked at in that way. Fast-track twenty years forward, when the curatorship students started looking at our collections, I had a similar feeling. It is just that suddenly, through somebody else's eyes, something takes on another level of meaning - and you look at it quite differently yourself."

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