The creative studio and foundry Dionysus Sculpture Works (DSW) was established by South African sculptor Angus Taylor in 1996. This creative space is constantly expanding, striving towards excellence and offering a notable contribution to the South African art scape.
DSW has completed a vast number of sculptures and installations in public spaces across South Africa and abroad. The foundry often utilises traditional media in combination with other materials such as granite, concrete and marble. Angus Taylor’s Dionysus, a monumental scale figure carved in granite, measuring 4.2m in height and 6.2m in width, was built at Tokara Wine Estate in Stellenbosch in 2017. This sculpture was awarded the Helgaard Steyn Award for Taylor’s notable contribution to South African sculpture.
Other sculpture projects for private as well as public institutions include, A homage to the foundation on which everything is built (2016), comprising of granite, steel and concrete, situated in the Pretoria CBD. DSW was also instrumental in the development, manufacturing and installation of contemporary works at Ellerman House Wine Gallery (2013) in Cape Town, the Irene Village Mall, the Apple Mac Head Quarters in Johannesburg, Newcastle Mall in KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Pretoria Main Campus (2010) and OBZ Square on Main in Cape Town. DSW has installed public sculptures in Canada, Belgium the United Kingdom and Netherlands. Monumental public sculptures for government organisations and municipal councils include, amongst others, the Chief Tshwane monument at the Pretoria City Hall, (2006) and the Brenda Fassie statue in the Newtown Precinct of Johannesburg (2006). Furthermore the studio and foundry specialises in the restoration and maintenance of bronze sculptures, and was actively involved in the casting and finishing of Anton van Wouw’s incomplete and uncast plaster masters for the University of Pretoria and the Van Wouw Museum.
DSW offers the opportunity to embrace new development in diverse technology combined with traditional sculptural media. The studio collaborates with contemporary South African artists in upscaling, 3-D scanning and printing, bronze and stainless steel casting, finishing and installation of artworks, and has worked with artists Andries Botha, Deborah Bell, Joni Brenner, Norman Catherine, Rina Stutzer, Sam Nhlengethwa and Angus Taylor, amongst others.
Members of DSW are encouraged to pursue their own artistic careers through making use of the foundry and studio facilities, as well as participating in the DSW group-exhibitions such as the Tacit group travelling exhibition which was showcased at the NWU Gallery in Potchefstroom, the William Humphreys Art Gallery in Kimberley, the Pretoria Art Museum and Oliewenhuis National Museum in Bloemfontein.
Notable achievements: 2014: Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (SASSDA) Art Project award for Sway, a stainless steel fence art installation designed by Rina Stutzer. 2015: Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) award for Innovation for the Cool Capital PPC Public Benches Project, coordinated by Francois Visser and Elani Willemse. 2017: Helgaard Steyn Award for Sculpture awarded to Angus Taylor for Dionysus.
First and foremost, DSW strives to never let art down by adhering to the following principles:
Research and development of new materials and methods implemented in sculpture making is a vital on-going studio endeavour. The studio infrastructure and expertise enables DSW to create powerful conceptual artworks, executed with technical proficiency, refinement and sensitivity. The studio creates by implementing the oldest traditional sculpting and casting techniques in combination with the most advanced current technologies and processes available. This ranges from large-scale clay modelling to 3-D scanning, 3D printing and virtual planning processes.
The DSW foundry utilises ceramic mould casting and sand casting techniques and works with induction melting of bronze, stainless steel and aluminium. By employing a community of skilled visual artists with different fields of specialisation, DSW is equipped to facilitate the development of large-scale sculpture and installation works. The two thousand square meter studio workspace allows for almost any scale of work, made possible by our inventive expertise and diverse knowledge base.
Since its establishment in 1996, DSW has worked alongside South African sculptor, Angus Taylor. The Sotho saying “Motho ke motho ka batho babang” meaning “a person is a person because of other people” holds special meaning at DSW, as each project is approached as a collaborative venture, where ideas are brought into existence under Angus’ guidance and the help of the studio and foundry.
The DSW team is not only actively involved in the casting, finishing and installation of Taylor’s private commissions, but also assist with his solo exhibitions that take place biannually. Furthermore, DSW assists Taylor with the development, making and installation of site-specific artworks, as well as in-situ construction of large scale public artworks, such as Dionysus at the Tokara Wine Estate in Stellenbosch (2017), Homage to Hermes at the Apple Mac Head Office in Sandton (2007) and Holderstebolder at the Norval Foundation Museum in Cape Town (2018).
DSW represents a highly specialised and diverse skill base, enabling the studio to collaborate with fine artists or non-artists in almost any creative endeavour. The team is actively involved from the conceptualisation and development of an idea, to the execution, completion and installation of a project.
Although the DSW studio infrastructure allows for complex, large-scale sculpture projects, the studio also engages in alternative small-scale artworks. Extensive experimentation and research is done in new materials for sculpture, and this ranges from the natural to the inorganic. Moreover DSW continuously develops its sculpting possibilities through technology, such as 3-D scanning, virtual shaping and up-scaling.
The studio itself is ever-adapting to current sculpture project requirements, always maintaining sensitivity towards appropriate sculptural materials, advising specialised processes and technologies relative to the core concept of the artwork.
DSW makes use of the lost wax process, a casting method dating back to between 4500 and 3500 BC, where molten metal is cast into a ceramic mould that was created through a wax model. This process allows for intricate detail and precision to be achieved in the final bronze. DSW is equipped to cast in silicone bronze, aluminium and stainless steel by means of an induction furnace, which is widely regarded as a clean, energy-efficient and well-controllable melting process. As a very technical and labour intensive process, casting of a small-scale sculpture can take between six and ten weeks, whereas a larger scale bronze can take up to six months before completion.
The foundry has collaborated on a number of large scale traditional public art monuments and portraits, such as Chief Tshwane at the Pretoria City Hall, Brenda Fassie in Newtown, Johannesburg and Solomon Mahlangu in Mamelodi, Pretoria. Furthermore, by working with established sculptors, the studio constantly develops its proficiency and skill through hands-on experience, skills-transfer and a focus on acquiring tacit knowledge.
The casting and finishing of projects such as The One Brother and the Dark Cloud by Angus Taylor, and Cogitator and Know Thyself by Norman Catherine exemplifies the technically complex foundry processes involved in casting sculpture. The relation between the scale of the sculptures and the finely textured surface detail called for extensive laborious finishing whilst the height, weight and canter leverage of the forms required intelligent joining and engineering.
DSW boasts a professionally trained team, consisting of a diverse and specialised group of individuals, each contributing a unique skillset to the studio environment. Our expertise range from fine artists and artisans specialising in traditional sculptural methods, to 3-D scanning, rendering and printing, arts administration, project management, public art consultancy and curatorial expertise.
Angus Taylor, Rina Stutzer, Francois Visser, Nolene Gerber, Reckson Tshehla, Robert Ramavhale, George Magampa, Marcos Chambela, Kgwane Rapolai, Simon Zitha, Steven Delport, Anita Finken, Navel Seakemela, Geoffrey Matsimela, Tebogo Mocha, Adolf Mogashoa, Life Zitha, Jacob Mogashoa, Johnny Ramusho, Andries Paledi, McDuff Matabane, Isaac Davids, Johannes Tanki, Kgathatso Davids, Daron Tlamama, Estian Gericke and Maria Khobo.
The Sotho proverb that “a person is a person because of other people” or “Motho ke motho ka batho babang” is an ideal that motivates DSW to give back to the community. DSW has participated in a number of public art collaboration projects such as the Cool Capital DIY Biennale, Africa Burn and Site Specific.
DSW views education at grass roots level as vitally important for the development and advancement of South Africa. The studio often presents tours for school and corporate groups, where our artists and artisans demonstrate the different processes involved in bronze casting. DSW provides internships to qualified Fine Art graduates where students can gain valuable hands-on sculpture experience within the foundry environment. In 2018 DSW teamed up with the Tshwane University of Technology Sculpture Department to provide practise based internships for final year sculpture students as part of their curriculum.
Finally, the studio is an avid supporter of the Click Foundation and the Make A Difference Foundation, two charities who raise funds to help with education of the youth in South Africa. Through our in-house artists we annually donate sculptures to their art auctions, the MAD Charity Auction and Art Angels, making a contribution in a manner that would otherwise not have been possible.