With the last two sculptures now installed, Hermanus FynArts hosted the final opening and an informative walkabout of the Pioneer Freight Sculpture on the Cliffs exhibition on Saturday morning. Almost all the participating artists were present and could add their own voices to the walkabout, which was conducted by the curator, Gavin Younge.
Jean Theron Louw’s sculpture at Gearing’s Point, entitled The View, is a delightful addition to this exhibition, which elicits much interest and is widely commented on every year. The life-sized sculpture of stainless steel, mild steel and resin features two baboons on a life-boat – apathetic Jane #I’m Staying and frantic Julius #I’m Outa Here. Jane reclines, pondering the fuss and Julius is frantic, staring through a telescope. Both baboons are wearing orange life-jackets and are in perfect balance, but if one should make the wrong move, the boat would tip over.
As Gavin explained, this is Jean’s point – our planet is in jeopardy through climate change. The View is a metaphor for the precarious situation of our planet – we need to either change our ways or we’ll tip it over the edge. It refers not only to Hermanus’s long journey with the local baboon populations, but more broadly to man’s relationship with nature. “It conjures up the unintended and unresolved conflict between the animal world and the human world,” said Gavin.
This sculpture also playfully hints at the suggestion which few humans ever consider, which is that while we observe animals they might also be observing us. When viewing the sculpture, you are invited to peer into the open end of the telescope – and discover the true threat.
“The purpose of my work is to awaken a consciousness of our connectivity with the planet as a whole. I want to draw the viewer into moments of self-reflection and soul searching, for this is what makes us truly human,” said Jean.
The second new work to join this ensemble of Sculpture on the Cliffs is Kevin Brand’s Bremen Arpeggio. Based on a Brothers Grimm folktale, Town Musicians of Bremen, it tells the story of four domestic animals – a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster – that were mistreated by their owners after a lifetime of hard work.
They eventually decide to run away and become town musicians in the city of Bremen. However, they never arrive in Bremen. On their way they come across a robbers’ den and succeed in scaring them off by means of standing on top of one another and producing a combined cacophony of sound. The robbers run away, our animal heroes capture their spoils and move into their house.
Gavin explained that Kevin’s interpretation was to place the animals, not on top of one another as in the notes of a chord played at the same time, but in a procession-like format, leading to the title, Bremen Arpeggio. (An arpeggio being a ‘broken chord’, when the notes of a chord are performed one after the other instead of all at the same time.)
Another interesting detail pointed out by Gavin was that Kevin’s works were prepared for casting in aluminium, with each of the four animals cast in two halves which were then joined to make the whole animal by using the sand-casting process. A close inspection will reveal the seam lines, something the artist chose to emphasise as a reference to toys, and the casting process.
With all 12 sculptures now installed, this exhibition is sure to be a source of pleasure and contemplation for both local residents and visitors until the next FynArts Festival in June 2021. In closing, Gavin thanked all the artists for their valuable contributions. Thanks also went to the sponsors, Pioneer Freight, who came on board for the first time this year under challenging circumstances, to the FynArts committee, administrator Chantel Louskitt, and Festival Director, Mary Faure, to whom Gavin referred as “a fortress of support and perseverance”.