Outdoor Site_Specific Art (or Land Art) combines natural elements like landscaping, permanently sculptured elements, rocks, sticks, soil and plants to create artworks which heighten and challenge appreciation of the beauty of our natural surroundings. Although in time the artworks will be reclaimed by the environment, traces remain to challenge the interpretation and enjoyment of the site and to highlight man’s transitory role in nature.
The artists and local community will start work along the pre-demarcated route from Sunday 22 May to Friday 27 May 2011, after which the ‘trail’ will officially be opened to the public during the weekend of 28-29 May amid a variety of fun-filled music, arts and crafts, and dance performances specially created for the festival.
An impressive list of invited artists will participate in this year’s event. They are; Urs Twellmann (Switzerland), Gabriele Meneguzzi and Vincenzo Sponga (Italy) as well as invited South African artists Strijdom van der Merwe, Angus Taylor, Marco Cianfanelli, Gordon Froud, Jan van der Merwe, Simon Max Bannister, Hannelie Coetzee, Charles Levin, Mark Wilby, Erica Lattich, Andrew van der Merwe, Carol Nathan-Levin and Anni Snyman.
Plettenberg Bay was chosen as the first site for this unique collaboration because it offers a diverse and stunning landscape, rich with possibilities for creating land art.
The proposed sites include: along the N2 (at the Kwanokuthula grazing field, Ebenezer Farm and Bitou Bridge); Madiba’s 90 trees at New Horisons; Hobie Beach, Main Beach and Robberg Beach; and the Milkwood trail to the Timber Shed.
Festival organisers, Site_Specific is a not-for-profit association of people (artists, authors, curators and organisers) who are passionate about land art.
‘The goal of the project is to propel South Africa onto the international land art map so that local communities can benefit from the skills development and new cultural tourism revenues. By inviting international artists to experience the diversity of SA’s rich landscapes and to collaborate with local artists, the organisers hope to enrich the skills, knowledge, and experience of all participants.’
‘In addition, artists and teachers will have the unique opportunity of learning how to use the materials available free-of-charge in nature to create fine artworks,’ says event organiser and Site_Specific marketing director, Margaret O’Connor.
What are the benefits to the community?
There are many community benefits to be derived from a festival of this nature: not only does it promote and celebrate the area’s rich history; offer skills transfer; provide incremental revenue and expand and diversity visitor arrival during low season; but it also helps create environmental awareness; and contributes to the educational experience for school children in the Bitou Ten Schools who will be taken on guided tours of the site.
One of the community craft organisations that will be participating at the Festival is the Boitumelo Community Project. Boitumelo is a creative women’s capacity building project that provides skills development through crafts training – offering an opportunity to explore personal issues through expression in art, bringing with it inner healing. The organisation will be holding a series of community workshops, showcase some of its award-wining artworks and offer products for sale.
‘We will be joining this fantastic art event and offering training to eight different craft projects within the Bitou Municipality. We will also exhibiting and working on our continually evolving ‘Veiled Hope’ (an artwork depicting openness and safety, hiding and clarity which explores the various cultural issues from being a bride to wearing the burka. The veil is made from various collected material and shared cultural differences, and offers the public an opportunity to explore their own traditional communal values versus the modern individual Eurocentric perception of the veiled world). This artwork won the first prize during this year’s ‘Skaftien’ (held at the Drill Hall in Johannesburg) in February 2011,’ says Erica LÃ¼ttich, Gauteng, creative director, Boitumelo Project.
Although these land artworks are relatively short-term pieces and any artwork that does not consist of natural materials will be removed from the site after the event – to ensure the sustainability of the festival, Site Specific has formed a partnership with the Eden to Addo Corridor Initiative who will invite one artist from the event to create a long term artwork along the corridor. This year, Simon Bannister is creating a stone sculpture near the Griqua village of Kranshoek with the help of the traditional Kranshoek stonemasons.
These long-term artworks are the lasting legacy of Site_Specific to the communal landscape of the greater Plettenberg Bay/Bitou area. Creating the artwork and maintaining it is expected to generate much needed jobs for several months and the projected tourist attraction will bring additional funds into the area.
A catalogue and photographic exhibition of the work will be launched in September 2011.
For more information about the festival, contact Margaret O’Connor, 00 27 82 452 5772 , Marketing Director, Site_Specific
The Boitumelo community project has been operating in Hillbrow since November 2001 and targets mostly women. These women come from the highly improvised inner-city areas of Hillbrow, Yeoville, Berea and Westbury as well as from Soweto, Diepsloot and Siteke in Swaziland. The project offers participants a six month training course where they learn sewing, embroidery, colour exploration, bead work, sewing machine skills and their creative abilities are nurtured. Having completed the course, participants have access to the centre and equipment where they produce artwork and products which they then exhibit and/or sell for an income.
When preparing for an exhibition or collaboration, the women engage in workshops and training sessions. During these sessions, the women are actively encouraged to discuss their personal values and experiences. Most of the women are victims of abuse and the workshops provide a safe haven to discuss and resolve their problems. This process brings about inner healing and their stories provide the creative inspiration that they incorporate into their artworks and products.