The Nirox Foundation
Built on the back of art lovers, fanatics and people who want to invest in the future of art in South Africa, the Nirox Sculpture Park is open to the public over weekends at no cost - but an eye must be kept on the park's events schedule as it is a popular venue for festivities.
The Nirox Sculpture Park can be found a stone's throw from the world-renowned Sterkfontein Caves. The Nirox Foundation Trust is a registered non-profit trust established and run for the benefit of the arts. Nirox comprises a sculpture park, artist residency, studios and workshops, outdoor concert venues and related function facilities. It is located on 15 hectares of landscaped gardens and waterways within an extensive private nature reserve, 45 minutes from the centre of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Within the reserve, lie several permanent artworks, all part of Nirox's slowly evolving permanent collection – available for viewing by special appointment. These currently include works by Richard Long, Willem Boshoff, Caroline Bittermann, Valerio Berruti, Rebecca Chesney, Pryanka Choudhari, and a permanent art piece by sculptor Angus Taylor. The reason why Taylor's piece is on permanent exhibition is because it can't be moved. At four tonnes, Taylor's Morphic Resonance stands out amongst the beautiful flora and fauna as one enters the Nirox Sculpture Park. Angus Taylor is a force to be reckoned with. He relishes working with challenging materials on a scale that many sculptors find intimidating. His craftsmanship, bold and visionary approach and his original use of materials has resulted in landmark sculptures and many ambitious public and private commissions around the world.
The Flora & Fauna
As part of the Sterkfontein World Heritage Site, the park includes an abundance of bird and wildlife in the area. This is due to the plant life found in and around the Nirox Sculpture Park. Several hundred plant species are found in the area, making it one of the most diverse plant communities in the world. Various trees and plants, mainly bulbs, were used by the early hominids for medicinal and everyday purposes – for example, wood for fire. However, the variety of wildlife and vegetation indicates that some of the wildlife in the area are descendants of larger predecessors like the extinct giant buffalo, giant wildebeest and porcupine (which can be found in the Nirox Sculpture Park itself). Other species of animals include monkeys and zebra.
The Youth And Art Programmes
The Nirox Foundation and Columba Leadership’s come together to develop responsible leadership in African youth. This unique combination offers the pedagogy of culture, conservation, community and commerce to inspire young leaders from Gauteng’s most disadvantaged communities and equip them with skills for success in life and work. Nirox will manage and service the leadership residency and provide access to artists and their work, as well as guided nature tours on the Nirox grounds and adjacent game reserve - responsible young leaders who successfully transition from school to tertiary education and/or meaningful jobs.
All in all, this amazingly diverse spot is well worth a visit - outside of the fantastic events it hosts!
By Shawn Greyling