It’s not for want of wild animals. Here are plenty, some unnamed, unidentified and two tame dogs. The thing is that angels just keep cropping up in between.
My guide seems as surprised as I. He is Drew Lindsay and we’re shuffling about so as not to miss anything or knock it over and there’s a lot of potential for both around the Spaza gallery, a sequence of intended and unintended spaces. One of the unintended spaces is a fenced area seemingly connected to the Vodacom tower.
Quite large statues by an artist Drew was mentoring are “stored” there for now. Some are standing angels, some laid on their wings, seemingly imploring to be lifted, arms stretching up.
The tower itself became the Tower of Hope in Troyeville. Collected plastic bottles light up when the sun sets. “It’s a ray in the bleakness we so often find ourselves in,” says Drew, his gaze sweeping until it rests on a clay statue of a woman wearing a blue doek. Sprouting behind her are wings. She has sharp eyes.
“She looks out for us here and sizes up anyone coming in.” There’s a bit of canvas that’s dropped into her line of vision, from an umbrella awning. “Thanks for pointing that out.”
Animals of metal, wood, mosaic, on canvas and paper, crop up, baring teeth or cocking cute ears. The art is not all by Drew. Most are pieces by others who need opportunities to show their work. Drew is concerned about other artists, especially would-be ones.
Even for his own big art commissions, like at the Concourt or for the Joe Slovo Bridge pillars, Drew says there is always someone who materialises or needs to learn along the way – and that’s how he likes the art process to be. “And I learn from others.”
There is a face painted on the flat surface where a tree branch was sawn off, seemingly oval framed. Drew is delighted by life in the random, incidentals and could-bes. Underfoot is a paving stone of a body with wings. “It’s another angel,” Drew realises.
Blue plastic bottles spill over a low roof, like wistaria. That’s the thing here. It does depend on how you see stuff. We’re in a passage of framed paintings. “You know, there are more angels here than I realised, I think it’s safer than Chubb …”