Metamorphosis as a thematic focus

Metamorphosis I: Nature Changes 

One of the themes in my work – Metamorphosis – is inspired by the metamorphosis of insects, as well as personal and spiritual transformation. It follows from the research and visual work that I did for my SAND(SPOOR] performance at the Arts Lounge during the 2012 National Arts Festival, which focused on tracks and marks left on the landscape by human, animal, insect alike.

While exploring ‘metamorphosis’, I realized it fits within a wider theme: 


There is currently 10-14 million species of life on Earth. An organism is seen as a biotic, living part of the environment. An organism is seen to:

  • be able to respond to stimuli
  • reproduce, grow and develop
  • be self-regulating, achieving a state of homeostasis

I am inspired by the scientific-biological nature, but also the spiritual symbolism, of organisms, landscapes and biotic systems. I believe that

  1.  there should be no division between science, culture and spirituality – the separation that we perceive between science, spirituality, us, nature, other people, animals and everything ‘different’ to us, is just an illusion.
  2.  each human being is an organism, among other organisms, that form an equal and intricate part of the web of life – a system much more complicated, mysterious and magical that we could ever fully understand.


In exploring and expressing this belief and focus, I am looking at the following elements, sub-themes and organisms in my work:

  • spiderwebs
  • fungi, lichen and moss
  • Gaia, or Mother Earth, as organism and living system
  • GMO – genomes engineered or altered in a lab
  • Soil organisms
  • Water organisms
  • Springtails, which speeds up the recycling of dad plants into usable nutrients
  • Beetles
  • Unicellular and multi-cellular organisms
  • Membranes, layers, skin and silk (from cocoons and webs)
  • Atoms, proteins and life’s building blocks
  • Human within the landscape
  • Plants, angiosperms and biomass
  • Bacterium microorganisms, Mycoplasma gallicepticum.

The largest organism, as well as the smallest organism on the planet is used as inspiration and relates to the concept of macrocosm vs. microcosm – all life deriving from the big bang and each of us made from particles part of the Universe as a whole.


We tread unto sand, unto rock, unto grass
And leave marks indented into the memory
Of place, of space, of time…

To be washed, blown and carried away
Through seasons and cycles of change…

Change. Adapt. To conditions in weather,
in a climate becoming increasingly unpredictable
Unstable due to the marks we leave when we tread unto the land
Harshly. Scarring. Penetrating the crust. 

We leave marks on the landscape, whether we want to or not, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. We leave footprints, a track, a spoor. Too often scars, blemishes, stains. Fracking, or Hydraulic Fracturing, inevitably leaves marks on the landscape – on the surface, subterranean, in the air and in the water – all of them detrimental to the health and life of the people, animals and ecological system(s). Fracking has been banned in several countries, but are being considered for enormous areas of the Karoo to extract natural gas from the shale formations. Please support the Treasure the Karoo Action Group who is pivotal in the fight for the people, animals and water of the Karoo.

This conceptual focus was the inspiration of my interactive performance & installation piece SAND(SPOOR], performed at the Arts Lounge during the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. During my time in Grahamstown I saw the Industrial Karoo – Fear & Loss exhibition for the first time, in which artists take a stand against fracking, and Katie Barnard du Toit’s installation (photos in this review on Litnet) planted the seed for my own sand installations.

This thread also runs through many other projects and artworks, especially my land art or site-specific interventions in the landscape, which is mostly very transient, seeking to NOT make a long-lasting imprint of my activities.

Journeys are also an underlying theme in my work due to my own travels through landscapes (and thus my own personal relationship with the sites I visit), and this theme is evident in my Nuances series – a series of limited edition archival landscape prints on Hahnemuhle.

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