Respected for his overwhelming heads and monumental sculptures evoking things of suffering, reconciliation, glory and sublimation. His works grace public and private collections countrywide internationally.
Anton Smit discusses the birth of the Anton Smit Sculpture Park and how his creative process works
The reason why I came here is because it felt like we were moving to the end of the earth. There’s a cliff over there and right in front of the cliff there is a beautiful dam and it felt like heaven moving here.
We saw this empty piece of land and we bought it, my wife and myself in October of 2002. We started developing it, both of us had a dream, she wanted a park, I wanted a sculpture park, and a studio and a gallery and everything so we started shaping this piece of land. There wasn’t a single tree that you see here. There was just ground, and all these trees my wife planted and the sculptures I planted. So we just kept on going. Fortunately, a lot of these sculptures don’t stay where they are for very long because they sell and that’s a wonderful thing otherwise we wouldn’t be able to carry on.
Behind me there is a head called the Kungwini head because this area in known as Kungwini. That means the misty place. Some people say the misty place of the kings. This place becomes very misty, you can’t see your hand in front of your face some mornings which makes it very beautiful because the mist comes up from the damn and then just covers everything.
Kungwini is also called the cultural heartland of the Ndabeni. This lady has this neck thing which is significant of their culture and then I put sharp rays in her head which symbolizes hope based on the symbolic meaning of the statue of liberty. The statue of liberty has rays like this and it means liberty enlightening the people and this is Miss Kungwini giving hope to our country.
Anton discusses the creation of the Millennium figure
This figure is called the millennium figure. I made a small one of it during the millennium, only as big as my hand which is like an egg, the start of the new century, the new millennium. After that I made it bigger and bigger every year so this is last year’s one which is the biggest that I’ve got at the moment of this particular figure. It’s like a fetus, a birth so she’s the new figure being born, it’s as simple as that. There’s a whole series of them until they’re 20m long and it was a wall that I built out of bricks and I made a mould of it. The wall is called revelations from the Bible.
The thing about this wall is that you can’t explain exactly what’s going on, like in revelation when you read it you cannot understand what’s written there mostly so just to get the feeling of what it’s like to read revelation.
Final words from the interviewer
Some observers have noted that so many of his pieces even the most abstract ones manage to communicate powerfully and emotionally and why his work is possessed with a raw earthly power that feels innately African.
His body of work comprises of towering human figures, nudes, impressive heads, masks, hands, angels, floating and stretching figures, warriors as well as abstract works using mostly steel, metal, fibreglass and bronze. Anton likes to imbue his work with an illusion of movement or gesture.
Bodies curling up or limbs reaching out to the onlooker, inspirational action figures projecting tremendous emotion, a call to movement. He works with metals and stones, also creating a unique iron and polymer cast mixture which combines metal with several other mediums.
Anton spends and works the first 3 months of the year in his Cape studios in Strand and for the rest of the year his studios in Bronkhorstspruit Dam where he oversees a dedicated workforce of 14 people, ‘they’re like family’, he said. Anton Smit in his creative prime is a force to be reckoned with.