Kinetic sculpture

2009-03-17 00:00

WHEN he was young, kinetic sculptor Zotha Shange often used to make wire cars, so it came as no surprise to his family when he started making his fascinating rolling ball machines.

The Pietermaritzburg-based artist, who is exhibiting a number of his works in the Schreiner Room of the Tatham Art Gallery until May 3, has always been interested in aspects of physics and working with metal, but only started creating his sculptures in early 2007 after seeing them featured in the film Fracture.

In the film Anthony Hopkins plays an engineer who designs and studies rolling-ball sculptures for relaxation. It’s something that Shange can relate to. “Designing and making my sculptures gives me peace and quiet,” he tells me when we meet at the Tatham.

The self-taught artist spent months doing research and experimenting before producing his first works, which he says are designed to both intrigue and educate the viewer, by showing the slow release of energy of rolling balls guided along metal tracks.

These balls switch direction, loop, spiral, and even transfer their energy to other balls — it’s utterly fascinating to watch.

Among the works on show are a huge ship, which Shange says is his favourite sculpture to date, one featuring a rugby pitch, another in the shape of a soccer ball as well as several abstracts.

All the sculptures, some of which are a metre or more in height and length, are made on a framework of copper piping. The tracks (and their support arms) for the rolling giant glass marbles are constructed out of three millimetre copper-plated mild steel rods.

For the duration of the Tatham exhibition, 25-year-old Shange, who grew up in Dambuza and matriculated at Georgetown High School, will be present to demonstrate how his sculptures work and to talk to visitors about how he goes about making each piece.

He will also be making new sculptures in the gallery. The public is invited to come and view him working between 10 am and 4 pm.

• The Tatham Art Gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Inquiries: 033 392 2801.

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