The Butterfly Wall: Expressing the tension between preciousness and mundaneness

Jo-Ann Strauss tells us why she nominated this art installation for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2017.

Taking inspiration from the 19th-century practice of collecting butterflies for display, Mark Rautenbach designed this vast installation using a material that is traditionally thought to be disposable – burnt paper. He wanted to create something that is both delicate (fragile wings suspended by thread) and banal (destructed pieces of paper) in nature.

These various aspects inherent in nature were taken into consideration during the construction of the Butterfly Wall that attracted TV personality and businesswoman Jo-Ann Strauss to the object. From a more technical perspective, it was Rautenbach’s intention to give the illusion of windows to the wall on which the display is mounted as depth is created by the slightly raised suspension of the butterflies inside each frame.

“The time and effort that went into sculpting each little butterfly and telling the story with what was essentially discarded paper – he put everything together in such a beautiful, tender way. I think that really caught my eye,” Strauss says.

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