The earthen material for GAIA was collected in an itinerant manner along a journey of 10,000 kilometres in selected places in South Africa.
Gaea is the primæval goddess of the earth. To this day she remains a key symbol for the conservation of soil and natural resources. In the Greek myth she gives birth to all life. She is the example of ideal motherhood because she keeps her lap filled with nourishment and provisions to care for all her children in instances of need.
Enough sand and soil was collected for GAIA so that the surplus made it possible to make a conceptual work entitled AUTOCHTHONOUS JOURNEY. This new work eventually found a permanent home under the name UMHLABATHI, at the Mpumalanga house of parliament in the city of Nelspruit.
AUTOCHTHONOUS JOURNEY is a conceptual work that focuses on the route followed in the making of a work of art, in this case the location of relevant sites, the process of collecting earth samples and the cataloguing of these. It contends that the research and event of giving shape to works of art are as important, if indeed not more important, than the finished article. This work, as well as Gaea I Index, were made possible by the Rand Merchant Bank corporate commission.
AUTOCHTHONOUS JOURNEY is of inconstant nature, and it was fortunate that its handfuls of sand and the plastic bags found a new, protecting and stable environment at the Mpumalanga legislature. For the remade work, more sands and soils were collected and the name was changed to UMHLABATHI. Not to detract from the central idea of simple handfuls of sand, the containers of the UMHLABATHI are also made of simple plastic holders with labels stuck on.