Origin – How stones predate everything, even glass.
New frontiers are being scaled through my current creative trajectory.
This constant itch of making something, something challenging is getting a good scratch. Years of working in a very focused (pardon the pun) way and seeing the world through my glass lenses has led me to this current path – to see potential in the seemingly mundane.
Rocks and stones have featured in many works, playing structural roles and developed as a metaphor. Rocks are Earth. They make up the upper crust on which we and everything else lives. Rocks form the border between heaven and the underworld. Rocks are old. They predate life, originating during the violent birth of our solar system. They are physical lumps of history.
These sandstone rocks I use are not just any rocks. They are from my area, mostly from where I live on the outskirts of Pretoria, all from the Magaliesberg mountain range, which is part of the larger Bushveld Igneous Complex. The Magaliesberg is one of the oldest mountain ranges with its formation dating back 3 billion years. Our ancestors occupied this area for over 2 million years. Fossils of pre-humans are still discovered in and around the Cradle of Human Kind.
The rocks I use for my sculptures are sedimentary sandstone. A few kilometers west the rocks are more compacted with harder sandstones than the ones here on our koppie. Working with this ancient material has opened new avenues of thought:
– Sandstone turns to sand over time and through natural erosion.
– Sand is silica.
– Silica is the basis of glass.
– I work predominantly with and through glass – sandstone can be considered the origin of glass.
Millions of years are contained in each rock. Billions of years passed in which these rocks (passively) “saw” evolution and cataclysm filter strands of DNA before human feet walked amongst them. There is so much energy here!
What makes us human? What separates us from all the other living creatures on this rocky crust?
Is it our consciousness? We observe and analyze, use this information and apply it to survive. We also have the means to think abstractly. We believe in gods, identify ourselves through them to make sense of our place within the cosmos. We also identify ourselves within nature, seeing that face in the clouds or eroded stones resembling a reclining figure. Does this not constitute a truly unique human trait?
This abstract way of looking and seeing yourself in the seemingly mundane is exciting! I am loving the results of my assemblages of disparate rocks of all shapes and sizes. I would liken it to a spiritual journey, into the past, that past that lingers in all of us, genetically handed down over aeons from our ancestors, echoing in every cell through our conscious being.
Each sculpture has its own challenges, starting with long walk to find the right combination, sizes and shapes of stones; then loosely assembling the parts and mentally visualizing the assembled shape. Although similar techniques are applied each piece is different with its own problems to be solved.
One could say these sculptures are their very own personalised short courses – applying years of tactile knowledge, working with glass and metal, I am inadvertently teaching myself about new challenges new shapes, colour (oh, yes. I am applying paint to some of these stones!), weight, assembly, aesthetics, and much more, bringing new depths to my artistic expression and understanding of oneself.
Once all the steps have been followed this painted and assembled stony structure tells me a story. I see a living thing. A creature made of stone.
I love speaking through my hands and eyes, delving into that genetic history of how we became human.