Natasha Thembiso Ruwona

2022 Migration Salt Water

Curatorial residency with commissioned artists Tanatsei Gambura, Khadea Santi, Lisa Williams and film programme

Credits: Image: Tanatsei Gambura

Curated by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, ENDLESS/BELLY brings together varied art forms that interrogate myth, spirituality and memory in response to Black Ecologies. Its title plays with the idea that the sea is spatio- temporal and that it holds history, dis/connects geographies and is entrusted to carry lives. 

ENDLESS/BELLY suggests an excavation of Scotland’s role in shaping the Black Atlantic, while considering the experiences of being Black in Scotland in the past, present and future. The project sees the development of three new live art micro commissions by Edinburgh-based artists Tanatsei Gambura, Khadea Santi and Lisa Williams. 

Ruwona has also conceived a programme of six films by Black artists making work about water and is sharing new writing.

This programme forms Art Walk Porty’s first curatorial residency and is supported additionally by funding from City of Edinburgh’s Council Diversity & Inclusion Fund, and The William Syson Foundation. 

Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, Portobello Prom 2022 – Image: Ellie J McMaster


Salt Wounds
Artist Khadea Santi presents Salt Wounds as both a remembering and healing work. The event incorporates salt mined from Lake Retba, Dakar, a peninsula in Senegal and the westernmost point of Africa. This salt holds histories of no return, the Transatlantic slave trade, colonisation and Black Ecologies. 

Simultaneously a performance, workshop and ceremony bringing together fire, ceramic, salt and writing, Salt Wound invites participants to use tinfoil to encase ceramic pieces in salt, then to unearth them from the ashes transformed into a myriad of different patterns and colours. The work also speaks on pyromancy (meaning divination by means of fire) and water as a place for cleansing and mourning.

Twisted Dream
Lisa Williams’ Twisted Dream is a poetic pilgrimage that prompts participants to take their minds back to Portobello in 1863. Enslavement in the Caribbean has ended 30 years previously, and Elizabeth Baillie McIntosh wakes from a feverish dream. The Scottish widow of a plantation owner in the tiny island of Carriacou, Elizabeth is now living a life of piety in Portobello. She becomes obsessed by the nightly visions of the cribo, a snake she had killed on the plantation, and begins to walk in her sleep. 

Drawing on personal family connections and wider historical entwinings, the poems explore our own capacity for self and collective healing. Williams invites participants to join in a poetic pilgrimage around Portobello together.

When We Come Out of the Water
Tanatsei Gambura’s When We Come Out of the Water bears witness to the fatal encounter of Black bodies with bodies of water in the wake of colonial and imperialist violence. From trans-Atlantic slavery routes to refugee migration channels on the Mediterranean, labour under modern capitalism continues to inter Black people within marine ecologies. 

Gambura is inviting people to bring fresh flowers to the steps of Portobello bandstand for a two-day vigil in honour of Black lives lost at sea. Constructed as an ‘organic memorial’ using funereal flora and the built structures on Portobello Promenade, this is an opportunity for communal grieving through the death practices indigenous to Black communities: ceremony and ritual. It acknowledges that Black and indigenous people will continue to be the worst affected by the climate emergency. 

When We Come Out of the Water Tanatsei Gambura, Joppa Steps 2022 – Image: Jon Davey

Commissioned Works & Live Art:

SALT Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, Art Walk Hub & Portobello Promenade 2022
Salt Works Natasha Thembiso Ruwona, mote102, 102 Ferry Road Edinburgh 2023

Live Art 2022
Twisted Dreams: a poetic pilgrimage
Lisa Williams, founder of the Edinburgh Caribbean Association, guides a performative walk through Portobello, exploring connections between Scotland and the Caribbean.

Salt Wounds
Khadea Santi leads a performance, workshop and ceremony bringing together fire, ceramic, salt and writing, including salt clay firing and durational performance on Portobello Beach.

When We Come Out of the Water
Tanatsei Gambura invites people to come together, bringing flesh flowers in honour of Black lives lost at sea, Steps by Joppa Bandstand.

Film programme
curated by Natasha Thembiso Ruwona: Tabita Rezaire, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Tulani Hlalo, Wanuri Kahiu, Zebib K. Abraham, Deborah Jack
Portobello Promenade, by Pipe Street

Writing commissioned in partnership with MAP Magazine, published in SALT journal published by Art Walk Press 2023:

A trio of texts by Harvey Dimond, unravels real and imagined oceanic journeys in South Africa, Scotland and Barbados:
I. Nobody Dies of Old Age in the Ocean on Tanatsei Gambura
II. Maps on Khadea Santi
III. Pray for a Life Without a Plot on Lisa Williams

Available to read on MAP

Twisted Dreams: a poetic pilgrimage Lisa Williams, Portobello 2022 – Image: Ellie J McMaster

About the artists:

Natasha Thembiso Ruwona is a Scottish- Zimbabwean artist, researcher, and creative programmer. They are interested in how Afrofuturism and ecology can meet through storytelling and by listening to the landscape. Using water as a site for thinking, Natasha investigates entwinements of Scottish history and Black Geographies via their transatlantic connections. Through their investigations, they are also seeking to understand how healing and improved wellbeing are impacted when we explore our relationships with our environment.

Tanatsei Gambura is a poet and artist who connects lived experience, geographies and memories to create multimedia works of exchange. Tanatsei’s commission considers water as a space of birth, life and death, and proposes communal grieving as a method for healing.

Through collaborative approaches to making, Khadea Santi uses workshops, clay, sound, performance and film within her practice. For her commission, Khadea continues to use elements of collaboration as a method for making through conversation, fire and clay.

Lisa Williams is the founder of the Edinburgh Caribbean Association where she runs educational, artistic and heritage projects. Lisa’s work for Art Walk Projects expands on her Black History Walking tours and research into Scotland’s relationship with the Caribbean, this time using contemporary art to tell these stories.

Salt Wounds Khadea Santi, Portobello Beach 2022 – Image: Natasha Thembiso Ruwona

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