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Hermann Niebuhr

Artist Statement


Next to my house in the village of De Rust is an abandoned piece of land. It once housed a church, demolished in the 1960s in accordance with the infamous Group Areas Act. All that remains of the church is a mound which speaks of the long-forgotten structure – and a few blueish-coloured rocks used in the foundations. 

Over the years I have taken care of the property, planting trees and shrubs, clearing it of rubble and weeds, that kind of thing. One such clearing session ended up in a bonfire, leaving a black disc of burnt wood and charcoal. I had an inkling of something…

This charcoal detritus, alongside ash from my fireplace and lime from my workshop, became the raw material used to make the images in the show, Jericho, which will be exhibited in another former church space, the GUS in Stellenbosch. 

The process of learning the language of these new materials took a period of some weeks, experimenting with different substrates and binders until the current wood-panel backing and wood-glue binder revealed itself. The studio as laboratory… The artist as alchemist.

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