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Berylloid: MTN Collection


During the past few years I made a number of 'private' sculptures in addition to the work for my main exhibitions. For most of these I have studied the shapes of stones that date back to time immemorial and linked them to present-day activities and energies. In a work entitled PSEPHOS (Billiton collection) I studied the use of pebbles as a means of voting and calculating. One 'pebble' sculpture DRUID'S KEYBOARD (collection Jack Ginsberg) is in fact made out of wood. In DISCUS (Sandton Gallery) I used the shape of a lens or discus to hint at messages that are flung across the earth. Another wooden 'stone' is the crystal shape entitled BERYLLOID (Vodacom collection). It alludes to the silicone-chip, satellite communication and the orbiting of objects in trajectories. I am presently working on a sculpture resembling a grinding-stone for corn.

For the sophisticated dynamism represented by Vodacom a belemnoid or 'javelin' dating back to pre-history, is envisaged.


The belemnoid object resembles a dart or javelin, a belemnon in Greek. It is long, somewhat cylindrical and tapers to two points.

Belemnites are small stones, a few inches long, wedged in rock-sediment as the fossilised remains of extinct cuttlefishes that lived 345 million years ago. Until recently everyone, scientists included, were puzzled by belemnites. No-one knew what they were and because of the mystery that surounded them, they were thought to be javelins cast down from heaven as messages to the inhabitants of earth. In the common tongue they were named thunder-bolts, thunder-stones and elf-bolts.

Vodacom requested that the theme of COMMUNICATIONS be considered for the work and I propose to install a massive thunder-bolt or belemnoid as a symbol of the company's far-reaching aid in telecommunication. Like the message-bearing belemnite, its data-conveying service takes place over great distances, in Greek tele- is 'far off'. Vodacom is in the business of beaming signals, nationally and internationally. The allocated site in front of the main building, visible from all over the building and from across the highway, will therefore be well served by a simple stroke of enigmatic 'lightning'.

As is the case in some of the ancient belemnites the central part of my maquette is slightly thicker than that of a javelin, it is perhaps more fusiform or spindle-shaped. I have aimed to add a high-tech, almost post-industrial touch to a primitive object. The sculpture has an inherent pulse, its body is made up of an oscillation of repetitive concentric rings. One of the primitive shapes I have considered in its construction is in fact the plumb, the pointed metal weight that creates a perpendicle, a vertical line enabling builders to build perfectly straight. In spite of the indirect reference to the plumb, I do not believe that BELEMNOID should be placed vertically, point down, although this possiblity is not yet ruled out entirely. Equilibrium in the placing of the work is crucial and placed horizontally the sculpture might better echo the clean lines of the pyramidal support-structure in the centre of the building.

PROPOSAL ONE: A work in stone

For this work the BELEMNOID is to consist of rings made of different types and shades of stone, hence the wooden patterns on the maquette.

Scale: no bigger than 1:10. This means that the work might span a distance of fifteen metres from point to point and that it could be two metres in diameter at its thickest point. The heavy stone object is envisaged as being placed on a plinth, close to the level of the water, its organic surface texture echoing in the aqueous ripple of the water.

A BELEMNOID of stone needs its own special construction and assembly-technique. A structural engineer must be consulted and his drawings and calculations are to be provided to the stone workers who will undertake the manufacture and the riggers responsible for assembly and installation.




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