There will be a rhino offered on auction at the annual Absa Kirkwood Wildsfees game auction – but in bronze, and to raise funds to combat poaching.
Profits from the proceeds of the auction on Friday, June 28, will be donated to the Rhino protection unit. The sculpture was done by Spies Venter well known artist who has been sculpting and painting rhinos for more than 30 years.
The sculptor’s personal involvement with and inspiration by the rhino started nearly half a century ago: It was in 1965, shortly after his return from London, where he studied for two years at the St Martin’s School of Art on a British Council Scholarship – the first South African to receive this bursary. He went straight to the Umfolozi to get the feeling of wild Africa.
“The first animal that I saw was a white rhino, standing pensive like a statue. The silence projected by this colossal armoured mammoth was overwhelming. I am not a word-person, but this experience remained anchored in my perceptions, colouring my emotions ever since and overflowing in a series of sculptures of the rhino,” he says.
“Now, 48 years later, the rhino is still my source of inspiration, even though not one of my rhino sculptures or paintings have yet been exhibited, although a few have been sold privately. It is as if I have to hold on to them!
“At first I wanted to portray the pain, suffering and anger of this threatened animal, who could dance so light-footed with uplifted head, despite its’ massivity. In my later works I focus more on the fighting spirit of the peaceful colossus.
“The escalating ecological destruction of our planet inspired me in 2006 to depict the conflict between man and rhino in three large paintings: the theme is the power play between avaricious poachers pitted against innocent nature, with the implied question of whether there can be any victor in such a contest driven by lies and witchcraft?” he asks.
The bronze rhino is 300mm long by 200 mm high.
Live animals on auction include 30 prize Addo Elephant National Park Cape buffalo and a variety of other prime game from the Eastern Cape’s leading breeders and reserves.