ANNULOID was directly influenced by my fascination with stone circles. Although I had many books dealing with stone circles and their significance, I longed to have the opportunity to visit their famous sites, which are to be found in England, Scotland and Wales. For many years I was unable to realise this ambition, owing to financial and time constraints (I had a busy teaching schedule).
In the early nineties I began working on the letter A of BLIND ALPHABET. After I had completed the sculptures for about 20 words, my friend Jack Ginsberg came to visit me. He was fascinated by the work in progress, and wanted to buy his favourite, the sculpture I had made to describe the word 'annuloid'. Jack was very disappointed when I would not sell him the piece, but he respected my explanation that the individual sculptures and forms that made up BLIND ALPHABET needed to be sold together. We discussed the annuloid form in great depth. This was when Jack realised for the first time that I had a great desire to visit the United Kingdom to see the stone circle sites. After some thought and consideration Jack, in true philanthropic fashion, decided to fund a trip for my wife and I, so that we could visit these ancient sites. He was adamant that he did not want to be refunded. With no other way to express the gratitude I felt, I wanted to make something significant and special as a surprise gift for him. Remembering how much he liked the annuloid shape, I decided to make a larger, more complex work based on the annuloid form.
As part of the process of documentation I carried out while visiting the 15 stone circle sites we travelled to during our stay in the United Kingdom, I collected small bundles of vegetation and twigs from each site. Using my extensive knowledge of European plants and trees, I noted down the name of each sample of vegetation or twig, and also the corresponding location of each site. This process took up a 15-day period during May 1994. I would collect the vegetation and twigs each morning before sunrise. In the process I would sometimes run around the stone circles a number of times, reflecting on the important role played by druids through the ages. They were the custodians and imparters of secret knowledge relating to the stones and their significance.
I brought these bundles of botanical material back to South Africa, and then devised a way in which they could be incorporated into a new sculpture. Although it appears solid, this second version of the annuloid form has been carefully and intricately carved internally, to house the 15 separate bundles of twigs. The top half of the sculpture can be lifted off to reveal the hidden circle of twigs and vegetation housed within. I printed the descriptions of the vegetation and twigs, along with their corresponding locations, in Braille along the circumference of the wooden base on which the sculpture is placed. The use of Braille for this purpose is intended to serve as a reminder that those who are able to see without seeing have the truly special gift of intuitive power.
(transcript from an interview conducted with the artist by W Siebrits, June 2007)
ENTRIES AS THEY APPEAR IN BRAILLE ON THE BASE OF THE SCUPTURE:
FIFTEEN SMALL BAVINS WITHED
WITHIN AN ANNULOID
DRUIDIC HORTUS SICCUS COLLECTED
ENGLAND WALES AND SCOTLAND
IN AN ITINERANT MANNER DURING
MORETON ON MARSH