Many of our kids now growing up in our cities are suffering from a new disease - Nature Deficit Disorder or NDD. “For this generation, nature is more of an abstraction than a physical reality. Kids today can tell you about the Amazon rainforest (compliments of Google), but not about the last time they went into the woods alone, or lay in a field listening to the wind and watching the clouds move,” says Richard Louv, who wrote an unexpected bestseller, “Last Child in the Woods”, about NDD.
But for those growing up in our ever-expanding megacities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, where is “nearby nature”? In its most expansive and diverse -in the Crocodile River Reserve (CRR) where three of Gauteng’s biggest rivers (the Jukskei, Crocodile and Hennops) meet and bushveld, grasslands and mountains make up a unique mix. As the locals call it – “a gem of a place”. Starting nearly 30 years ago, “meet-and-love-nature” events have been happening in the CRR. Scorpion and spider walks, hikes, geology and grass walks, birding, bat and frog talks, tree identification - all take place regularly.
But in September, something very special is happening - Land Art.
We know all about landlords, land claims, landmines, landmarks, Landrovers. But Land Art? That’s a new one for most of us. The CRR’s ENCOUNTER weekend on 10 and 11 September is introducing Land Art - different from anything you’ll find in a gallery. Created by artists at locations around the country, it is inspired by South Africa’s beautiful and diverse environments.
Land Art is the process of creating an artwork with natural materials and found objects. Artists use things like sticks, leaves, sand, mud and stones to create artworks that focus the viewers’ attention on an aspect of their surroundings which they may not generally notice.
“You do not need a degree in art history to enjoy it!” says local resident, Fransa Cole, one of the artists. . “This programme hopes to find a way to develop a new appreciation of nature, to create harmony between people and nature. Land artists can also put degradation in sharp focus, serving as the new eco-warriors.”
The creative activities are coordinated by GreenMountain under the leadership of Ronel Wheeler and Matthew Green , The South African artists include Site_Specific Collective, Ubuhle Bobuntu, Boitumelo, and various artists participating as individuals - some famed land artists who have participated abroad!
The Site-Specific Collective will be accompanied by members of YATOO, the Korean Nature Artists’ Association. The group’s itinerary through South Africa starts in Johannesburg on 8 September, moves to the CRR and finally ends in Cape Town on 6 October. At various points they will stop to create nature and land art, documenting and sharing their endeavours with local artists in workshops and public presentations.
The Green Mountain artists have visited the CRR several times in past months. Many installations will be created at the historic Silver Hills, including the Stone House. “The art work can be massive - at a landscape scale - or minute, a surprise encounter for the viewer,” says Ronel.
The artists will also be moving further down the Gemstone Road with its iconic Koppie-Alleen and Daisy Farm, a heritage site.
“We invite you to encounter Land Art in the Reserve. Bring your camera and capture this temporary art form to participate in a photographic exhibit of land art later this year,” says Fransa. For information , please contact Fransa Cole on 082 902 9149.