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Chris van Niekerk is a qualified horticulturist turned conceptual botanical artist. He works from his insectarium art studio in the heart of the fynbos and wine region at the foot of the Simonsberg mountain close to Stellenbosch, South Africa. His botanical insects, which he dubs ECOSKELETONS, is a wordplay on the exoskeleton of a beetle.
“I want my art to create awareness that the extinction of insect species threatens the continued existence of all life on our planet. In the past three decades, close to a third of land dwelling insects have been wiped out through habitat destruction, pollution, and the use of chemical pesticides. Being an eco artist is fused with my background qualification in horticulture with entomology as a subject.”
“Working with preserved and dried plant material, I create botanical insects by carefully shaping leaves, seeds, thorns, roots, bark, grass and botanical finds into realistic looking miniature sculptures. I do not aim to create taxonomically correct insect specimens. It is an organic process of combining botanical matter in a way that blurs the line between naturalism and illusionism to create a unique form of art. It is about foraging examples of similitude in nature and metamorphosising it into insect forms. The unique natural Protea and fynbos plant kingdom where I live presents a lot of possibilities. When dried, it is exceptionally tough and richly textured.”
Each work is preserved with shellac resin to prevent any decay of the materials that are being used. It is made from the natural secretion of the LAC insect and is fully biodegradable.
The GREEN CAST acrylic that I use for display is fully recyclable.