art, decor

Land Art

In our October 2012 issue, celebrated local land artist Strijdom van der Merwe shares why sustainable living is important to our own wellbeing. We chat to him more about land art and why we should bring it home. Land art is a contemporary art movement in which landscape and art are inextricably linked. For those of us who don't know our Strongs from our Smithsons, what is this movement really about? In general it is 'site specific' work, meaning it is work made from material found on site and the art work belongs to that site. The landscape is not a setting for the work but becomes a part of the work. Land art is also most commonly found outside the gallery space. Working in nature you become aware of the changing cycles of life and most land art relates to these ever-changing cycles making them non-permanent. If land is your canvas and nature your medium, what is your method? The sculptural forms take shape in relation to the landscape. It is a process of working with the natural world – using sand, water, wood, rocks etc. – and to shape these elements into geometrical forms that participate with their environment, continually changing until their final probable destruction. Land art is usually preserved and admired as a photograph in a gallery. Why should we be bring land art home? It will re-establish your connection with nature. We are part of a bigger picture and the danger of loosing that connection is the danger of loosing your sense of belonging on this earth. It is general knowledge that working in the natural landscape is one of the most important healing processes recommended by psychologists – why not have a little bit of that in your home? How can we go about using the principles of land art in working with our own land/garden/space? Know your landscape – by this I don't mean your garden. If you live in a certain area of the country, lets take the Western Cape for example, then study the reason for its natural flora. Study the reason for its climate. This is kind of a meditation process to become one with your surroundings. Then, and only then, will you be able to create/plant/sculpt/arrange something in your garden that forms an integral part with its surroundings and reason for existence. On 23 April, 2013, a land art installation of Strijdom van der Merwe's work will open on Earth Day at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington USA. Locally you can see his work in March, 2013, at the Nirox Foundation Johannesburg, or within his latest book, 'Sculpting the Earth'. Visit for more information.