Mining Narrative Art

Fracture: The Coal Chronicles of South Africa

In the heart of South Africa’s Highveld, the coal mines unearth minerals as well as stories. These tales, rich in heritage and complexity, are vividly brought to life in Riaan van Zyl’s charcoal artwork, “Fracture.” This piece, a masterful blend of shadow and light, captures the essence of the coal mining industry that is a cornerstone of progress, the heart of electricity generation and manufacture and a subject of environmental and social discourse.

Artist Biography – Riaan van Zyl

Riaan van Zyl, a visionary artist born in 1976, transcends the traditional boundaries of art, blending classical techniques with a modern, alchemical approach. Describing himself as more of an alchemist than an artist, van Zyl’s work is a fascinating exploration of movement and time, captured through unconventional media.

After completing his studies in Contemporary Fine Arts at UNISA and earning his Bachelor’s degree in 2000, van Zyl embarked on a professional art career that has seen him curate numerous exhibitions and showcase his work in galleries worldwide.

Artwork: River’s Daughters of Manono – A Testament to Resilience and Hope

In the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Manono region, where the tantalum-rich earth whispers tales of both hardship and hope, a poignant story unfolds. It’s the story of the River’s Daughters of Manono, three young girls whose lives are intricately woven into the fabric of the local tantalum mining industry. This narrative, captured in the evocative artwork River’s Daughters of Manono, is a testament to resilience, hope, and the unyielding spirit of the human soul.

Photo by: Studio98 Herman van Bon

Artist Biography – William Onker

Born in 1977 in the Western Cape, Onker’s artistic talent was evident from a young age. Educated in Kraaifontein, he garnered every diploma during his school years. In his early 20s, his interest in the acrylic medium was ignited, leading to commissions from the surrounding community. His first official exhibition was held at the Retreat Library around 14 years ago, and his reputation grew exponentially, especially on social media platforms.

He later transitioned to oils as his preferred medium. Today, he collaborates closely with The Cape Gallery. His artworks grace walls across international borders, including the USA, UK, Germany, Australia, and France. Most of his pieces are commissioned, showcasing his expertise, especially in landscape art.

Artwork: Stratigraphy Of Humankind

South Africa’s rich tapestry of mining history is intricately woven with tales of prosperity, trade, and resilience. At the heart of this legacy lies the ancient Kingdom of Mapungubwe, situated at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers. Flourishing between the 11th and 13th centuries, Mapungubwe stood as the most complex society in southern Africa.

Photo by: Silver Dune Photography

Artist Biography – Jo Roets

Capetonian Jo Roets is a distinguished sculptor, painter, and mould maker whose passion for art has been a lifelong journey. Her unique ‘light relief sculptures’ are crafted from self-drying natural stone clay, pushed to its limits to create delicate bass relief artworks. Using unconventional tools, Jo intricately scores the clay, allowing it to warp naturally, adding a unique touch to each piece.

Artwork: Future’s Gaze

Picture this: In Africa’s heart, a young boy, VR headset in place, looks ahead into what might be the future. But there’s more to this image than just tech. It’s a nod to Africa’s treasure trove of resources.

While these elements power global tech, they come from a continent that’s still grappling with economic challenges.

The candle in the boy’s hand? It’s a throwback to the traditional mining methods, contrasting beautifully with the futuristic VR headset.

Photo by: Anne Marais (Anne Marais Photography)

Artist Biography – Nisty Chatha

Nisty Chatha is an artist whose work explores the concept of collective identity and the interconnectedness of human beings. His art delves into the idea that when people work together as a collective, they can make the world a better place.

In his paintings, Nisty often depicts multiple figures within a single body, representing the idea that we are not singular entities but rather part of a larger collective. These figures are on a journey to elevate themselves financially, physically, and emotionally, hiking towards the highest part of the body, the mind, which represents validation and acceptance.

Artwork: The Boy Of Manica

The Boy of Manica – A Delicate Balance of Survival and Hope

In the remote landscapes of the Manica Highlands in Mozambique, an 8-year-old boy’s life intertwines with the pursuit of gold. This painting, inspired by a photograph taken in 2010 by one of our geologists, unveils a poignant moment taking place 20 metres underground. The boy, small enough to crawl into spaces where adults cannot, sifts through the earth with a pipe providing air from a distance above.

This image is a glimpse into a complex reality playing off around the mine. It is a world where the boy’s agility becomes both a blessing and a burden, allowing him to provide for his family in a way that few others can.

Photo by: Anne Marais (Anne Marais Photography)

Artist Biography – Michelle Oosthuizen

Michelle Oosthuizen is a talented artist whose work is deeply influenced by the human experience and the world around her. Michelle is particularly moved by the stories of children who face adversity and hardship. Her paintings often explore themes of resilience, determination, and the indomitable human spirit.

The inspiration for “The Boy of Manica” came from a photograph taken by a friend who works daily within the harsh realities of the African mining industry. The image of a young boy working in a gold mine, with a look of determination and courage in his eyes, deeply touched Michelle. She wanted to portray his resilience and dignity in the face of such injustice and hardship.

Artwork: Cherry’s Rock & Roll

In the vast landscapes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a moment of irony and inspiration was captured by one of our geologists searching for lithium and tantalum in the discard dumps scattering the landscape of Manono, DRC. This was no ordinary sight and a profound connection with a young lady miner sparked this captivating artwork, “Cherry’s Rock & Roll.”

A Smile that Tells a Story

The young lady miner, with tantalite, tin, and lithium balanced in a bag on her head, was captured in a photograph with a smile and a Cherry Rock & Roll t-shirt. The three elements she carries, essentials in our daily lives, are found in products ranging from cell phones to electric vehicles and renewable energy systems.

Photo by: Anne Marais (Anne Marais Photography)

Artist Biography: Jonel Scholtz

Jonel Scholtz’s artistic journey is as vibrant and multifaceted as her paintings. With a background in chemistry and biochemistry, studied at the University of Johannesburg, Jonel’s approach to art is both scientific and soulful. Her artistic endeavours began in high school under the guidance of American-born artist Louise Goudemond, and since then, her work has resonated across galleries and exhibitions worldwide.

A Global Presence

From Johannesburg to New York, Jonel’s art has graced the walls of renowned galleries such as Alice Art Gallery, Lizamore and Associates, Woodstock Art Gallery, and Agora Gallery in New York.

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