Virginia MacKenny TheNearandFar Tree

Book project
Join Virginia MacKenny on Saturday, 31 July at 10:00 for a conversation about the artist's book project The NearandFar Tree.

A story about a tree on a rock on the edge of a desert shore. A story of aloneness and resilience and rootedness.
A story of distance and proximity. 

A conversation bridging the gap - about intimacy across the divide, connecting with where one isn’t, and where one is.
A children’s story for adults. An adult story for children. Flattening space. 


The story of the NearandFar tree was prompted by a visual conversational joust between Virginia MacKenny, an artist living in Cape Town, South Africa and Margaret Courtney-Clarke, a photographer living in Swakopmund, Namibia, during COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.


MacKenny and Courtney-Clarke were corresponding, occupied with the sequencing of images for Courtney-Clarke's book ‘When Tears Don't Matter’ (Steidl 2021). MacKenny noted a curious tendency in many of the photographer's compositions - Courtney-Clarke often aligned elements that were close to the viewer to those in the background, thereby flattening space. After a number of images where the tops of the fence posts in the foreground aligned with far horizons, and flagpoles grew out of the apex of tombstones - instances where such conjoinings levelled distance, MacKenny was prompted to both comment and question Courtney-Clarke.


Unrepentant Courtney-Clarke riposted with a photograph taken in her backyard. The visual retort was a perfect conjunction of points - the tip of the burial stone marking her dogs’ graves aligned not only with the aloe growing behind it, but also the paint line on the building to the rear. Taking up the challenge, visually rather than verbally, MacKenny responded with a watercolour, converting the photograph to a tree on a rock with the sea in the distance. This was the first image of what was to become the NearandFar Tree - a conversation, in more ways than one about distance and proximity, and connection.



First Edition published by Quiver Tree Press in 2021. 

The first 100 copies are numbered and signed by the artist. 

The book is available for R450 please contact to order 


July 28, 2021