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Images of Human Rights
Clause 1: Equality

'A Fair Deal' 345 x 304, woodcut
Margaret Gradwell
The right for everyone to be equal before the law is specified in detail in the third paragraph of the clause: the state may not unfairly discriminate against anyone on grounds of race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, and birth. Margaret Gradwell has represented these 17 aspects in 17 small icons arranged in a large circle, recalling the signs of the zodiac. Imagery and style clearly reveal that the artist is influenced by traditional West African art and symbolism. The circle, cross-culturally associated with unity and harmony, serves to frame a man and a woman occupying the centre. The two, almost more an archetypal male and female than a man and a woman, are holding hands. The emblematic image seems to transcend the changing concept of marriage and instead denotes a universal gesture of love, unity and coming together, underlined by the spiral in the background. The couple's headresses with carved birds - another element inspired by West African sculpture - further amplify the importance of the scene by lending it an almost sacred, ritualistic character. The abstracted image of a fish filling the bottom corners refers to freedom of movement, while the leaves in the upper corners emphasise our connection with nature.

Margaret Gradwell (Slabbert) was born in 1956 in Pretoria. She received a BA (Fine Arts) degree and a Higher Education Diploma from the University of Pretoria, where she later lectured and presently serves as a Section Head in the Department of Fine Arts. She has shown her work in several group exhibitions and four solo shows since 1977.


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