Sticks, stones, roots and bones

‘Sticks, stones, roots and bones’ (2021) artist: Jodi Hugo


All I keep thinking about is the soil I am from. The earth and the land that still courses through me. The elements that make up my body and my brain. And how I am inevitably shifting and changing physically as I live, breathe, drink and  eat in this new strange land. The seasons are flipped the microorganisms are different. The water tastes and washes differently. The sun hits me differently and all this dust and dirt is filling me.

The memories hurt. The nostalgia burns in my chest and the loneliness of this new uncanny valley country is accumulating on all the surfaces and in every corner. It seems like I should understand it and understand the people. But the mold is different. I have tried scrubbing it away but the dust accumulates faster that I can clean it away. 

Every cell will be replaced in time. My bones will be left with holes. My blood will taste different. My brain will still be somewhere in this old place. It will still be functioning on all the old elements, polutants and nutrients that it was built from as it is withereing and not understanding this new reality and this new aging body it finds itself in. 

But we had to move. We had to escape so that we can find rest.

The roots and stones, bones and soil we left behind will keep us together. It will bind us. The way it molded our bodies and minds will always leave a trace. The environment imposes it’s will even after we have flown from it. 

Will I be able to incorporate this place and become a part of it as I shed all I do not use? 

And will I be buried in this soil that my ancestors left centuries ago?

My mind will fade and this body will be left to become a part of this land. 




Since moving from South Africa to the Netherlands, I have felt a strong need to express what it feels like when major changes happen. Every time I try to grasp at it it eludes me. Memories and thoughts and identity seem to be vague and are like vapour.  Especially when you find yourself in a strange uncanny valley of experience. Reality seems suspended. The mind keeps trying to make analogies and patterns based on what it has experienced before. And that is starting to feel like a useless exercise. Still that is what the mind does.

This new reality is paralel and doesn’t quite fit the mold. Like a bad print. And yet the mind is making stories and analogies and trying to make sense of everything like you are stuck in a dream. Somewhat out of focus. Discordant, clashing worlds. There seems to be a constant very faint current of misunderstanding. Just unease. And, I suppose, that is what change feels like.

What emerges from the cacophony is something new. The echoes inform a new system, a new pattern, new memories, thoughts, identities.

I wear your dress sometimes

I wear your dress sometimes

It always seems like things are slipping away. Yet we are left with impressions that – through the years- keep being retraced and overwritten. Sometimes they are carved so deeply and other times it seems like things have been scribbled over so many times that I can’t make out anything at all.

I have tried to find some connection with this new piece. A connection to my grandmother and great-grandmother. I was very close to them and since they are gone now I feel like I am trying to grasp something. It is difficult to let go.

The title of this piece was taken from a line in the song ‘I wear your dress’ by the incredible Anaïs Mitchell. I kept some of my great-gran’s and granny’s dresses. Some part of me feels like I can embody some part of who they were when I wear them. Yet it is so different. And the dresses take my form but the narrative is continued. For a while.

I have tried to observe my own nostalgia and my own memories. I have found that much of what I think I remember is from old photographs. Sometimes I wasn’t even there. I wasn’t there when my granny was sixteen yet I see the pictures and I recognize something so familiar. I think of the stories they told. The places I put myself in my imagination. There is no boundary. And yet all these things we try to hold onto just slip away like water running through fingers. They fade and change and rearrange in my mind and in the stories told. And the narrative continues.

I miss my grandparents.



My work is available at State of the Art Gallery

Figments of Memory

Figments of Memory

Patreon page

I have just started a Patreon page! And I thought I would share my first post with you. I am still trying to figure out how everything works but it can’t hurt to start spreading the news. Please feel free to go and take a look! I am very pleased with the new direction I am taking my work. I am  incorporating many of the styles I have already built on for many years. So: this is from my new post:

Figments of Memory


I have just started a new series of works and this is the first completed painting.   It is a mixed media piece that incorporated charcoal, acrylics and soft pastels. It is made on board. The piece has a very interesting texture which is something I would love to explore further in upcoming works.
This new painting is about the remnants that are left in our minds. People we vaguely remember. These moments are often heavily laden with emotion and certain details. Yet the rest is left partial or missing. `And often memories are completely fictitious.

Observing Existence

Observation is inherently existential. It is communication about our experience of our existence. I find it impossible to separate the two no matter how mundane an object I choose to paint. The human form is not mundane – especially not to humans- yet it is ordinary. It is something we all possess. And everything about this fact is interesting. This is existing and this is experiencing.


Lightheaded by Jodi Hugo