Struggle shooter puts the ‘fist and flag’ label to rest by Tymon Smith

Omar Badsha jokes with two of the gallery assistants at the National Gallery that they are back late from their lunch break, a right he fought for them to have back in the ’70s when he was involved in the trade union movement. The assistants are setting up in one of the four rooms set aside for Seedtime, a major exhibition of Badsha’s drawings, woodcuts and photography that opens this week. In the room where we’re sitting, photos from his series on India, Road to Tadkeshwar, are propped against the wall, awaiting their turn to be prepared. They’re just a small selection of the almost half a century’s worth of work that Badsha, who turns 70 this year, has produced since he started making art as a teenager in his hometown of Durban.