Art

Mama Warthog and the Fountain of Gold

February, 2015

T

his sculpture is hewn from the stump of a jacaranda tree which was felled and uprooted in about 1999. I first worked on it in 2001/2, just after my daughter Jireh was born, but left off in mid-2002, as I had not the faintest idea how to proceed. Twelve years later, in October, 2014, I suddenly knew in an instant what to do, and so I recommenced work.

From the very beginning, Mama Warthog, as an archetypal beast, dominated the piece from the cut upwards, along with her two twin daughters, springing forth from the left side of her head. She with her nine tusks, in varying degrees of growth, maturity, and decay, and her daughters springing forth fully grown and fully tusked – four are visible on the lower daughter, five on the upper – although as yet their eyes remain hidden within.

Behind, above, and around her and her offspring reigns primal carnage, hunt or be hunted. At her back soars upwards the magnificent beast with yellow and black hood, and gaping maw. It is engulfing a large green tortoise-like being, for whom all hope is lost.

Just below and to the side swoops a root which has fascinated me for its multiplicity from the start. Beginning with the green behemoth with mammoth red tongue and fiery eye, roaring up and engulfing the silver mollusc, it transforms into the beautiful and exotic ultramarine and tangerine-coloured sea serpent (with somewhat Picasso-esque eyes) and the green and gold snake, consuming the last of its meal, a smaller reptile of whom only the brown and yellow tip of the tail remains as the remnant of its meal. The somewhat cumbersome beast in blue has no chance of surviving the aeons of evolution.

And ah, yes, the whale! It can be viewed from three different angles to reveal three different animals, one eye for each side, and then from above so as both eyes are visible. Its target is presumably far above the sculpture.

As far as the fountain of gold is concerned, this part of the title only came about late on, when I had chosen gold as the color of delineation between and among the figures. From the bottom to the top, gold runs throughout as symbolic of the value of all life.