One of the artists exhibiting at this year’s Winter Sculpture Fair is Jonathan Freemantle. His work, Temple of Flora was originally commissioned by the Standard Bank Gallery, for their exhibition ‘Exact Imagination: 300 Years of Botanically Inspired Art in South Africa’.
Temple of Flora presents a conversation between essence and form, and expresses Jonathan’s ongoing fascination with both alchemy and the pursuit of essence, and the idea of an ordinary experience becoming a transcendental one.
The Temple itself is an ambiguous space – part greenhouse, part secular sacred space, part alchemical laboratory – and will resonate particularly at Nirox as a garden within a garden. “My cathedrals, the places where I connect to the divine, have always been in nature,” says Jonathan of his fascination with man’s connection to nature.
The Temple’s aesthetic is based on the Golden Ratio, found in many temples and cathedrals, as well as in nature and the human body. The external perimeter of the Temple forms a golden rectangle, while standing inside the Temple is to stand within a 3D golden rectangle.
Inside the Temple are five plants – each a common, indigenous plant, and thus meeting Jonathan’s desire to “deify the ordinary”. Each plant exists in three different forms – in its identifiable plant-like state, as an essential oil extracted from the plant, and as a painting using the plant’s essential oils as a painting medium. The five paintings are painted on paper and suspended around the Temple, resembling stained glass windows.
In conjunction with the physical structure of the Temple, a sound recording plays the (unanswered) mating call of the Kauaʻi ʻŌʻō (Moho braccatus), a bird endemic to the island of Kauaʻi until the early twentieth century, when its decline began. Its song was last heard in 1987 and it has since been declared extinct. The recording is the call of one of the last known living birds of this species, if not the last.
Walking into the Temple, one stands within a golden rectangle, one can see and touch the plants, and one can smell the plants’ essential oils. “I wanted Temple of Flora to be an overwhelmingly sensory experience, rather than a cerebral one,” explains Jonathan.
To see Jonathan’s work at this year’s Winter Sculpture Fair, get your tickets here. Tickets are limited and available online only, so book now to avoid disappointment.