Land Art honours the Wild Horses at Klein-Aus Vista
The “stone horse” in the plains of Klein-Aus Vista. Photo: Lance Foster
A 100x150m galloping horse has been set in stone on the plains of Klein-Aus Vista Lodge in south-western Namibia in honour of Namibia’s century-old population of wild horses whose future hangs in the balance.
The Wild Horse is the third ‘earth drawing’ or ‘geoglyph’ that siblings Anni Snyman and PC Janse van Rensburg have created with their group of volunteers as part of the Site Specific Collective, a land art project that brings nature and art together in large scale.
Their two previous geoglyphs are located in the Karoo in South Africa – a Snake Eagle in Matjiesfontein and a Riverine Rabbit in Loxton. The Snake Eagle was created to bring attention to the proposed fracking in the Karoo and the Riverine Rabbit Thinking Path (Doekvoetdenkpad) to bring attention to the plight of the critically-endangered Riverine Rabbit.
The land art is a team effort. Anni uses her artistic skills to create the image using a single line, while PC provides his architectural expertise for perspective and scale. The volunteer group varies from project to project, depending on who is available at the time, but most of the volunteers have joined Anni and PC before on other projects, or have met at the art biennales or art projects in the past. All have an artistic inclination and a love for the earth.
Site Specific calls the geoglyphs ‘thinking paths’. These are walking paths or meditation paths, which you walk by following the line of the earth drawing in a similar way to walking a labyrinth. The Wild Horse will differ in this respect because of the sensitivity of the Namib Desert environment. Unlike the other two geoglyphs, instead of walking the path, visitors will climb the adjacent koppie on the lodge’s Vista Trail to view the horse galloping across the plains. Maps and permits are available from Klein Aus Vista’s reception.
Because of their vast size, all of Site Specific’s geoglyphs can only be viewed from above. The first two can be seen from a drone, hot air balloon – and on Google Earth, and the Wild Horse geoglyph from the height of the adjacent hill.
The Wild Horse has taken several years to materialise. It began as an idea three years ago when Anni and PC first heard about Klein-Aus Vista Lodge near Aus and its owners, the Swiegers family, from a mutual friend. The lodge is in the vicinity of the Namib wild horses that reside in the nearby Namib Naukluft Park. As a result of spotted hyena predation, the wild horse population has dwindled in the last six years from 286 to a mere 77 horses. The Wild Horse geoglyph, as seen from above, appears to be galloping towards the crossroads, significant of the population’s uncertain future. The volunteer team initially spent a week staying in Klein Aus Vista’s Geisterschlucht (Ghost Valley) cabin in June 2018 to mark out the Wild Horse using old fence droppers donated by the Swiegers. The droppers were replaced by the team in May this year with 4244 rocks from old fence lines to make the image clearly visible from above.
It now gallops in stone, a graceful image of rewilding, freedom and – more importantly – hope for Namibia’s wild horses that are teetering on the brink of extinction.
The art work is in progress, the viewpoint is visible in the background. Photo: Lance Foster