Artists will paint the earth in Plett

Octayvia Nance

AN established artist and a young talent from Nelson Mandela Bay both will both get to show off their creativity for a week at Site Specific’s second International Land Art Biennale in Plettenberg Bay next month.

A total of 20 international, national, and local artists will be given a week to create land art – an art form created using natural materials such as soil, organic media and water. The public will be able to observe and document the artists’ progress as the works are completed.

Port Elizabeth’s Lungiswa Gqunta, 22, who received the Young Artist from Eden Award, is the youngest artist participating in the event this year.

“It is so exciting to be a part of this event. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn from the older and more experienced artists. It will be my first time participating in something like this,” Gqunta said.

“I try not to plan because I don’t know what site will be assigned to me … it will be a challenge because we only have a week to conceptualise our artwork and the weather is also a factor.”

Gqunta has worked on public sculptures for the Bay and is currently working with carved and burned totems.

She is interested in the intersection between the traditional and the urban contemporary.

NMMU art lecturer David Jones is a leading artist from the Bay who will be taking part.

“I am very delighted and humbled to be a part of such an event. When doing site-specific work one can never have a preordained idea,” Jones said.

“You work with the landscape and the surroundings. When I get to the site I will look at its history and claims. I will find something that I can relate to and has beauty which I can either contribute to, enhance or contradict.”

Jones would like each of his students to choose a willing artist to shadow for the week.

“I will be taking my students with me so they can be exposed to real artists at work,” he said.

Jones heads the department of studio arts at NNMU and is engaged with community structures, working at rehabilitating the inner city.

Founding member of Site Specific and primary curator Strijdom van der Merwe – who is a renowned land artist – highlighted a few aspects which excited him about the event.

“In addition to the invited artists and the ’20 sides’ art works that will be along the beach, we will also have a calligraphy workshop, photographic workshop and a walking trail.

“This year we will also reach out to the communities in and around Plettenberg Bay, offering workshops and creative classes to the underprivileged and the elderly,” Van der Merwe said.

“When selecting the local contingent of artists, I looked for a connection with nature in their work, regardless of whether or not they were practicing land artists. Because site-specific work is generally not offered as an opportunity, I was sure they would welcome the invitation and respond to the challenge.

“The selection is a mixture of youth and older, more experienced artists. The motivation is to bring fresh energy and insight into the fold of older, established ideas. We like to invite artists who come without preconceived ideas and are willing to walk the land before they decide what they are going to do.

“I believe certain artists have a sensitive eye towards the landscape – that they observe it in a way that brings innovative creative processes and solutions.

“These artists have an intimate understanding of the cycles of nature, and are willing to create work that compliments the landscape, rather than exploits it,” Van der Merwe said.

  • Further information on the event from Anni Snyman at 083-252-2035.

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