The story behind the metal screens at the NAGN’s sculpture garden…

The story behind the metal screens at the NAGN’s sculpture garden…

Many passerby and visitors to the NAGN have been amazed by the magnificent metals that background our sculpture garden…but it isn’t just metal, if you look closer you will realize that these are different five metal screens! And again these aren’t just metal screens. These are artworks.
In the next five months we will bring to you the story behind each metal screen!
Gaze into this one by Namibian painter and mixed media artist Nicky Marais.

What inspired you to make the metal screen?

I had travelled to the north of the country and was fascinated with the “skeletons” of traditional houses that I saw sometimes. Especially the “bones” of the roof structures. Occasionally I saw these roof structures for sale on the roadsides, and sometimes I saw them being carried from place to place. The sticks used to create these structures were bound together in interesting ways and the whole object was fascinating both from in a formal way and as a concept.

What method/process was involved in creating this metal screen?

I made various drawings and presented them to the NAGN, who then employed Chris Snyman to translate the drawing to a metal screen which he did really well.

Are there specific elements that we can see/identify in the metal screen and what do they symbolize?

There is just one element, and that is the roof structure of a traditional house from Northern Namibia. For me this symbolizes the concepts of home, vulnerability and human-centered constructs.

Any additional information you would like to share about this artwork?

I am always happy to use art as a way to translate, preserve, promote and emphasize the traditional handwork made by Namibians.

“The history of the screens is that up to 2013 the NAGN experienced huge problems with unauthorized accessing of the sunken courtyard in front of the lower gallery. The NAGN had to secure the area but didn’t want conventional burglar proofing or a closed wall. The sunken courtyard was then filled up to be utilized as a sculpture garden while the screens were then installed on top of a low retaining wall to serve both as a security feature and as an integrated design element. They are also practical in the sense that they prohibit entry but let light into the lower gallery. The 5 screens were designed by 5 artists (Alpheus Mvula, Nicky Marais, Niina Turtola, Francois de Necker and Chris Snyman)” – Hercules Viljoen, Director at the NAGN.

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