Once upon a time, this structure was an infrastructure; looked upon with respect; honoured by the house it resided. Once upon a long time ago, this structure was a relief.
I imagine the father of the household, pressed, but happy he doesn’t have to use the bush.
I imagine him bringing his less fortunate friends around, and showing off, with pride glowing on his face, his beautiful pit toilet.
I imagine Mr Pit Toilet looking glistening, its zinc body shining, standing tall and proud, enjoying the care of the household.
Then one day, came a white porcelain bowl with matching box they called cistern. Perhaps, it was a family member living in the city, who brought it saying, “this one is the latest, it can even be installed in the house, no one would need to use the pit toilet again.”
Soon, our friend, Mr Pit Toilet notice no one comes to use him anymore. No one as much as glances its way. No one thought to clean it or perfume its inside.
Its body is rusted. Broken. Its roof, sunken. Its only companion are bushes no one thought to clear. Abandoned. Forgotten. Rejected.
Isn’t the life of man the same in some ways? This pit toilet is every man who was once rich. This pit toilet is that big man that was once the pride of everyone but is now poor and forgotten and abandoned to fend for himself.
Dereliction is the act of abandoning something, or the state of being abandoned.
I recently had a practical modelling class for my ss2 students. Our medium was clay and the students were naturally excited to mould. One notable thing about moulding aside from the somewhat cumbersome yet challenging process, is the thrilling idea of creating a pseudo-life; an everyday object. Being aware of this, my students were naturally very careful not to spoil their works. And it was with joy I watched them express their fears and yearnings for perfect mouldings. Often times they would look up to me on how to go about it. At that moment, the moulding was not just a clay work, it was a marker for their ability to create, and they were well aware of that.
It was also something to see how some of them looked when their works weren’t coming out as they would like it, it was a priceless experience. It was the bridge between an idea and the physical art. I like to think of it as a battle, between an artist and the forces, should he relent in replicating the exact idea he has in his mind, then we could say he’s lost the battle. But many artists do not -cannot – recreate in exact form what ideas they have. And understandably so. It’s always a case of the closer, the better.
The interest and excitement my students showed during the practical was, for me, a very satisfying time, I enjoyed the power, time and even worry they invested in their work.
At last came the finished works modelled work, and the smiles – and half frowns. Many of them again turned to me to assess their works: was it good? did I like it? Every single work was no doubt worth the stress.
My students, unknowingly, have been exposed to the real artist experience, and as a teacher it’s just a privilege to have been the one creating the opportunity and setting the tempo for that.