Kliprivier Urban Biodiversity Corridor (KUBiC) aspires to convert the South of Johannesburg into a visual experience. This initiative is a 3 – 10 year process of creating one of the first major green urban corridors in Gauteng.
Esther Malan Simonis
Matriculated at Central High School, Bloemfontein,1958
Diploma in Ceramics and Sculpture
(Gotthard School of Art, Krugersdorp, 1981)
BA Fine Arts
MA Fine Arts
Africa Services (1991 – 1999)
Project Leader and Educator: Training teachers in disadvantaged communities to launch preschools and develop creativity. Training courses in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi
Editor of Unisa Art Forum Magazine
South African Printmaking Printexchange between universities
‘Humans make artefacts, and then the world of artefacts shapes humans’.
My artwork aims to investigate the archaeological delving process as a metaphor for a personal, introspective delving and searching process that also manifests itself in the art-making. It is an attempt to explore and uncover personal history, background, cultural heritage and fundamental identity. The personal exploration amounts to a process similar to an archaeological excavation.
During both processes, layers are uncovered, each of which represents a particular concept. Gradually, as more and more layers are uncovered and as the search deepens, each archaeological as well as personal ‘layer’ , reveals it’s interrelatedness. A holistic, comprehensive and clarifying narrative gradually begins to emerge, which connects then all the separate layers and all the respective discoveries.
This process required active engagement with the ‘landscape’ and the history that informs it. The different art installations at Thaba ya Batswana portray the parallel representation of the past rediscovered in the context of the present – a real reflection of the archaeological process. The artist interacts with the sites inherent qualities and architectural features, and engages with the cultural significance of the site itself as an active element in the interpretation of the work. Following the initial archaeological excavation at the site of Thaba Eco Hotel in 2002, the exact place assigned for the art project, Diggings I was identified. The artist’s direct involvement during the excavation process, allowed for an active participation in the discovery process and in an active engagement with the landscape, the artistic ‘material’ and the ‘spirit’ of the past. In the art project, eight ‘highlights’ were presented in an almost autobiographical explanation, described as a ‘journey’ on eight ‘Levels’.
The passing nature of archaeological sites in general, influenced also the momentary characteristics of the art project, as some of the artworks disintegrated ‘underground’ already and is only visible as photographs. The archaeological surroundings of Thaba Ya Batswana functioned as landmarks that symbolised the connectedness and rootedness of the Tswana people. By the opportunity to represent an overlay as a kind of message of intimacy to the land – and thus imposed another site-specific layer on the landscape, the artist became actively engaged with the landscape and the history that informs it.
The land art artist uses the known and recognised environment and site to invent and assign meanings to juxtaposed elements and objects in a way that the archaeologist cannot. The following project on the site was the Meditation Trail with its three sections, Faith, Hope and Love. There are contemporary circles or artworks in the different sections, each with a different incentive in mind. Symbols are very prominent along this trail and the circle becomes the metaphor for infinity, unity and protection.