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There’s an elephant out there

So, there we were, just casually strolling in the Hague upon a spring afternoon, and we  happen across an elephant. Just there, yes, an elephant, in the middle of the street. Huh? I hear you say. Well, that’s what I was saying to myself (and to PJD) too. It sure was a little out of place amongst the graceful, leafy, European streets, and the international legal fraternity. But it was there, nonetheless.

It certainly wasn’t any regular, plodding-across-the-plains-of-Africa type of  elephant. No, this elephant was altogether different.

He was, as you can see, rather majestic and distinguished, as, I think, elephants tend to be, and was attracting quite a lot of attention. But why was this elephant there, I hear you say? Well, it turns out we just happened to stumble upon the new Hague summer sculpture exhibition, The Rainbow Nation, part of the Hague Summer Festivals.

Now that the exhibition is fully set up (it wasn’t, on Saturday, when we chanced upon it), it features 50 contemporary sculptures, all by South African artists. From the ones that we saw already, they look beautiful set up under the trees along the grand Lange Voorhout promenade. This summer of South African sculpture will culminate with the unveiling of a new Nelson Mandela sculpture in the Hague in July.

Anyway, back to the elephant, which I admit, I was captivated by. The work is entitled Nomkhubulwane, and is by Andries Botha (2009). He’s got an impressive website here that’s worth checking out. This is not the first elephant of this scale that Botha has made. In fact, very sadly, I learnt that earlier this year three of his elephants were vandalised in Durban, this clip makes for sad viewing. In relation to Nomkhubulwane, Botha has stated that

“Nomkhubulwane is the Zulu Goddess of rain, nature, and fertility, and is regarded as the Mother Earth. She is believed to be capable of changing into different types of animals. The name Nomkhubulwane means ‘she who chooses the state of an animal.'”

Have you guessed what he’s made out of yet?

Even though I didn’t see all the Rainbow Nation collection, I am confident in saying that the Nomkhulbulwaneis certainly one of the most striking, impressive works there. I especially love its life-size scale, recycled nature, and the fact that the work carries with it a wildlife conservation message.

Oh and you can’t miss him: he leads the pack from the front.


Photos by CIA. The Rainbow Nation runs until 9 September on the Lange Voorhout in Den Haag. Nomkhubulwane is constructed out of recycled tyres and galvanised mild steel. He’s been on show in other places around the world before Den Haag. Have you seen him before (or any of Botha’s other works)? I’d be keen to hear, so let us know via a comment!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Is it made out of tires? There are two full-size elephant topiary at the entrance to the San Diego zoo.

    June 2, 2012
    • Yes, it’s made out of tyres! Pretty amazing. The texture is really interesting up close, and the effect over all is very impressive. The topiary elephants at the entrance to the San Deigo zoo sound great!

      June 2, 2012

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