“Drawing with light” is a series of playful artworks by Londolozi artist-in-residence, Simon Bannister that you might have seen on our social media pages recently. Simon is a visual artist practicing predominantly in the field of land art. He’s also the 2013 David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year.
But expensive art “sitting on a wall” is not Simon’s priority and many previous visitors to Londolozi will appreciate that fact. Take as an example “Corridors of Hope”, a permanent installation at Londolozi’s entrance that “holds” the view through to the mountains of South Africa’s Blyde River Canyon.
The piece is literally a vision that captures beautifully the Varty family’s conservation mission to advance green frontiers. Glance “down the line” in the space between the two structures and this becomes one view of one corridor that might one day be placed back under wildlife (re-establishing ancient migratory routes).
An installation like “Corridors of Hope” is meant to be inclusive – an alternative way for visitors to experience what one family has made their mission for several decades. Vis-à-vis a sculpture that inhabits a specific space, the viewer becomes a participant. Is there any better way to experience the dream of another than by looking through his or her eyes?
“Freedom’s Way”, “The Digital Tree of Knowledge” and the “World AIDS Day Heart” are three more Simon Bannister installations that invite participants to experience art in a collaborative way in a very new (and creative) South Africa.
1. Freedom’s Way
“Freedoms Way” is a pathway that winds through the Londolozi village. Nelson Mandela was a special guest to Londolozi in 1992 and it is a privilege for us to be able to share this “interactive” walk dedicated to our hero with visitors to Londolozi. In this evocative installation, Simon brings the memory of Mandela’s life, values and spirit alive, and roots it firmly into Londolozi’s soil.
2. The Digital Tree of Knowledge
A totem of access to world-class education at Good Work Foundation’s Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC), Terabytus Digitata has become famous the world over. This is a one terabyte tree that connects students to the world, but it does so much more, and, as Simon says: “We wanted to create a meeting place connected with the virtual, creating an infinite branching of minds, wires and ideas, held strong by the roots of our humanity. Exploring the growth of the human mindscape and environment, may this work provide a boundless resource of learning and sharing for many years to come.”
3. World Aids Day Heart
In a bid to create something living and collaborative on World Aids Day, Simon created a wooden sculpture in the shape of a heart. Staff and visitors to Londolozi were then invited to add a piece of red string to the heart, in solidarity with all of those people who have been affected by the illness. The piece was hung up in the heart of the village, unhidden.
I spoke about “Drawing with light” at the beginning of this article because when I first saw the electric lines of Simon’s elephant, I loved the surprise. Simon is one of South Africa’s preeminent, award-winning artists who isn’t afraid to gather old wood, collect a bunch of stones, or, in this case, turn on a torch.
More than that – and much more significant – for me the title, “Drawing with light”, sums up a large body of Simon’s work. Here’s an individual who is finding inspiration with nature, but who is keen to share that, and also, to help other people – people who perhaps do not consider themselves artists – find their creativity via a connection with the wild.
As Simon says, “self-expression is the essence of the individual’s journey. We are all creative, your nature just needs to be discovered.”