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LIKE FATHER LIKE SON? (article first published : 2006-12-15)

Opening at the Durban Art Gallery on November 23 is Like Father Like Son?, the official travelling exhibition of Churchill Madikida, the Standard Bank Young Artist for Visual Art 2006. The award entails a solo exhibition of his new work, which opened at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in June 2006 and thereafter travels to major centres throughout South Africa.

Churchill Madikida grew up without a biological father, and his exhibition sets out to explore what happens to sons who grow up without their fathers.

It is widely acknowledged that children need structure, security, stability and attachment to develop and flourish. But modern society presents many challenges to the environments of children through occurrences such as high divorce rates, new family structures, increased mobility, women's liberation, and poverty.

Fathers are cited more than mothers in issues such as psychological maladjustment, substance abuse, depression and behavioural problems, according to research done by Ronald Rohner, director of the Centre for the Study of Parental Acceptance and Rejection in the School of Family Studies at the University of Connecticut, and his colleague Robert Veneziano. They also found that a father's love helps prevent the development of these problems and can also contribute to a child's good physical health.

Drawing from his own personal experience, the works on this exhibition engage with Madikida’s complex family history. Like Father Like Son? explores the differences and commonalities with members of Madikida’s family and especially his father who he recently met for the first time in 32 years. The artworks provide an insight into how growing up without his biological father may have shaped his sense of being, his relationships and even perhaps his perception of the world.

He attempts to share his struggles in trying to understand and overcome growing up without a biological father. For Madikida, this process includes dealing and acknowledging shortcomings and wrongs of the past and mostly offering forgiveness and moving forward.

Like Father Like Son? runs at the Durban Art Gallery until January 27.




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