Friday, June 28, 2013

Some thoughts about creating land art

Land Art is about working with the landscape, within the landscape. It's about using the elements available to you and arranging, changing and complimenting these in a way that creates harmony and enhances the beauty and inherent unique qualities of the site. It's a conversation between artist and nature, a dance and interplay that relies on understanding and respect.

The landscape is the land artist's canvas, and the leaves, rocks, sand, trees, and plants his/her tools. The sky, earth, forests, beaches and glens are the studio spaces, while the wind, sun, water and insects are companions and co-creators. Just as with 'traditional' sculpture you thus have subtractive as well as additive techniques.

Taking away involves:

  • Raking, clearing or sweeping sand, leaves, pebbles or debris
  • Carving, cutting, scraping into bark, stone or other surfaces
  • Scooping or digging into sand or earth

Beach Calligraphy by Andrew van der Merwe

Strijdom van der Merwe -

Adding involves:

  • wrapping branches, trees or rocks 
  • stacking boulders and slate,
  • building structures and forms
  • moving things from one place to another
  • bringing in foreign materials to enhance what's already there

Janet Botes |

'Los' by Angus Taylor. Site_Specific 2011 Land Art Event Plettenberg Bay, South Africa.  Photograph by Elizabeth Olivier-Kahlau. Image from

Strijdom van der Merwe |

Similarly land artists also make use of art & design elements, particularly:

  • contrast
  • colour
  • rhythm and repetition
  • line
  • shape
  • emphasis/focus
  • composition

That's all for today, but make sure to keep an eye on the Site_Specific Facebook Page for updates and wonderful two-question artist interviews, as we get closer to the second International Land Art Biennale, in Plettenberg Bay 10-17 August 2013!

Friday, June 21, 2013

100days100beaches photo pilgrimage

This project is not necessarily a land art project, in that there is no manipulation of the landscape, no use of natural materials to create an artwork. However, in this project, just like land art:

the landscape is subject matter and focus, and
the interaction between human and land becomes 
a challenge - an action - a commitment 
to experience...
to feel...
to live...
to breathe...
to capture...
to appreciate...
natural spaces.

It also reminds me of  Richard Long's "Walking a Line" in which the act of walking in nature becomes the creative process, the artwork. The pilgrimage 'becomes' the creative act. This is why I feature 100days100beaches by Peta Sarkis:


17Jun-24Sep 2011

Peta Sarkis 

A self-designed, photo-pilgrimage to capture 100 beaches in 100 consecutive days in Cape Town, regardless of weather or beach conditions or lack of funds to fill a thirsty petrol tank.
A self-taught photographer with a love of nature, a calling to capture the essence of a beach and a belief in the healing of a twenty minute daily walk – inspired Peta to take on this photographic challenge .

On 17 June 2011 she began her solo mission to experience and reveal the ever-changing beauty of Cape Town’s many beaches, interacting and inspiring both local and foreign tourists and workers wherever she went. Many a crazy winter day was spent chasing the rain or windy weather, but never without a smile on her face at the pure and delicious madness of it all.
For a consecutive 100 days, Peta posted a photograph and a short write up on each day’s adventures – inspiring many along the way, to take up their own challenges. As many as 240 daily fans from all over the world followed her pilgrimage, savouring her images as much as her stream-of-conscious journaling.
The daily travels covered beaches all around Cape Town’s coastline – from Cape Point to the city to just past Bloubergstrand and one beach out towards Betty’s Bay.
By following her passion and being true to herself - Peta inspired others to take on their own challenges. An unexpected victory along the way ….inspiring herself to inspire others!

  • No Photoshop was used to enhance these images in anyway.
  • In order to qualify for the challenge, the beach, bay or point had to be officially named on a map or at the beach itself.
  • A beach could not be re-visited in order to re-take any shots. Only ones from that day qualified
  • The challenge had to be 100 consecutive days
  • Once a beach was intuitively selected, another beach could not be chosen that may seem more enticing along the way.