360 Degrees of Johannesburg

'War of the worlds - playground', 'War of the worlds- Topstar I and II'. Medium: Mine dump and Playground sand in print medium on Fabriano.

Size: 40cm x 40 cm. Year: 2011

Statement: This work is a drawing, scratched into sand that is suspended in print medium. The sand was collected at the playground where I spent my youth. We used to play a game there called ‘War of the worlds’. Basically the game entailed drawing a circle in the sand and gradually challenging other players for pieces of it. One day I found a circle drawn in the sand, ready for a game to begin. I thought, “Wow that is so big, it must be as big as the world.” As I thought this, I caught a glimpse of the Johannesburg skyline and quiet abruptly realised the sheer massiveness of our planet.

The drawing is purposefully story-book like in style. This references both the sentimental value we attach to memories as well as the ability children have to suspend disbelief and to believe in the imaginary.

This work refers to a seminal moment in my childhood, the moment at which reason began to encroach on what seemed perfectly possible in my imagination.

This work is a drawing in sand, collected from the sight of the now demolished mine dump on top of which the Topstar drive-in stood. The title refers to the constant fight between development, loss and the human need to preserve. The colours seen here are collections the various kinds of rock being mined at the sight. The dark brown, bottom is sand from my childhood playground.

Mine dumps in Johannesburg have recently been demolished due to advances in mining technologies, making it financially viable for mines re-process them for the gold deposits they held/hold. The uproar over the demolishing of the mines in Johannesburg mirrors the uproar to their construction, some 50 years ago. The Topstar drive-in is of particular interest to me as it was considered by many Joburgers to be a historical land mark. A sight that held nostalgic memories of childhood bliss, of watching films as well as the possibility for the creative and whimsy to overcome the engine room of a city.

It interests me that the same ability that allows humans to adapt so quickly to new circumstances causes us to grow very strong attachments to ‘old’ ones. The fear of the loss in the face of development and the need to preserve is sometimes most evident in the need to hold onto something even if it is, logically, purely sentimental. I have referred to this through the use of sand collected at the sight. Its use seems to heighten the value of these artworks, which are merely sketches of Topstar drive-in, in sand.

Regarding the title ‘war of the worlds’. When I was a child we played a game, called ‘war of the worlds’. Basically the game entailed drawing a circle in the sand, challenging other players for pieces of it and eventually one player would win the entire ‘world’. One day I found a circle drawn in the sand, ready for a game to begin. I thought, “Wow that is so big, it must be as big as the world.” As I thought this, I caught a glimpse of the Johannesburg skyline and quiet abruptly realised the sheer massiveness of our planet. All this is referenced in these two works by the use of earth, collected at my childhood playground, and the circle bottom right.