Walter Oltmann


Mother and Child (2013)

Walter Oltmann was born in South Africa in 1960, his focus became directed towards sculpture, he skilfully sculptured his art forms by fabricating woven wire into material objects, which frequently used local craft traditions. He spent a great deal of time researching the use of woven materials and the tradition of his chosen sculpture. Oltmann spends his time wisely as an artist, as his name has become synonymous with this traditionally African art form.

In 2007, he made a series based all around the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa. The artwork was of a skeletal pregnant mother and her baby; woven with fine wire to bear a resemblance to lacework that suggests permeable skin as it highlights the uncertain wall between an HIV infected mother and her child. The idea was to create intimacy and a delicate natural feel in the intricate detail of the work by using lace in the weaving. The choice of subject matter provides an emotive charge, the subject matter of skulls and a child’s skull this is unlikely to leave the audience without a reaction. He is referencing the natural bond and the cultured history between a mother and child. The skeletons feel very sentimental and give a sense of attachment which is why he felt it necessary to use this subject matter in so doing he was able to recreate an almost X-Ray level of detail on the interior of the human body.

“I manipulate industrial materials in a way that contradicts their prefabricated nature by emphasising hand-made processes.”

I feel heavily influenced by this work due to the techniques of using different materials to create metaphoric, semiotic and diverse narratives behind the work. As the work is very beautiful but also hauntingly intimidating in some harrowing aspects, I feel my work will relate to this vision, I will incorporate the use of powerful trauma within my work to provide a unified narrative to inform and educate the audience discovering all aspects of disease’s symptoms. I very much liked the skeletal body and the use of its form as it already creates a huge impact and provokes emotive reactions

The solitude that this artwork provokes when viewed is something I would rather like to recreate; I believe that a solitary body creates a greater depth in terms of the connected connotations, the relationship of how it relates to somebody psychologically. I feel that this artwork is so poignant and urges me to recreate the chosen aesthetic style but I would like to submerge the style in a bathtub, through a projection to recreate the same level of poignancy. I will exchange the bodies positioning to emphasise the itching/burning but also the drowning or engulfing feeling thus creating the feelings I felt that the disease created in me. I would like to photograph myself from above a bathtub but changing my positioning, this will ultimately enable me to narrate the story through my body image. I shall create watery effects moving over the still image of my body to recreate a bath like simulation, I will place a red overlay over the top to symbolise fire and danger and perhaps a flickering light from below to help recreate fire like simulation.

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