Laura de Harde

Laura de Harde

Dr Laura de Harde is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pretoria. In 2019 De Harde completed her PhD in the discipline of History of Art at the University of the Witwatersrand which marked the culmination of five years of cross-continental research in archives and museums in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Germany. Laura’s research required trekking through the southern African landscape in search of rock art shelters and other remote locales and, since completing her PhD, Laura is extending the predominantly text-based research of her thesis and combining it with her own artistic practice. Over the course of her Postdoctoral Fellowship, Laura will be exploring archival materials, including but not limited to, the University of Pretoria archives, with a specific interest in the role women occupy/occupied in research. Her two-year Fellowship will culminate in a solo exhibition.

During my Doctoral studies, I immersed myself in an archive of hand-painted copies of rock paintings produced, by the artist-researcher Elizabeth Goodall, from the 1930s until her death in 1971. The archive, housed in Zimbabwe, presented a largely untapped resource of visual information pertaining to Southern African rock art. While conducting my research I used the insights, gathered as a practicing artist, to examine and illuminate the often-illusive processes involved in creating rock art reproductions. Over this time, I also developed a keen interest in the relationship between creative/ artistic practice and scientific research. Since completing my PhD in 2019 I have been using my artistic practice to further develop and explore themes unearthed over the course of my studies. Through a visual engagement with archival materials and ‘women’s work’, I consider the presence of women in archives and historical documents and employ thread to further probe and disrupt the art/craft divide.

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