Wits art students challenge traditional notions of drawing and vandalism with doodle-like installations on East Campus.

Two fine art students make their mark on the Wits Library Lawns on East Campus, by erecting abstract wooden sculptures aimed at challenging conventional ideas of drawing.

The project, dubbed as “Wood Vandalism” is the brainchild of third-year students, Noa Hall and Joshua Alexander, and forms part of their fine arts curriculum for 2022.

Noa Hall and Joshua Alexander work on their sculptures on the Library Lawns. Photo: Tylin Moodley

Their idea was to use recycled wood and public space to create unusual figures, which they placed along the Library Lawns fountain. The figures are somewhat open to interpretation with some looking like people and others animals.

The pair had previously worked on a group project in which they used wood and decided it was a material they wanted to continue with. The idea of creating the art and using the lawns’ fountain as a space for their work is a process that Alexander said happened “spontaneously” and “organically”.

Explaining their process, Hall said, “It is very rough. We’re kind of thinking about it as a sketch or a doodle, but with wood in a 3D space. Like you would do on the page with doodling.”

Their lecturer, Nyakallo Maleke, explained that the course, drawing and contemporary practice, is an experimental process in which not only drawing is experimented with, but also the space and materials. Previous classes took place in different places around Wits to see how students respond to space.

The criteria of the project is to create a library of drawings that go beyond the blank page, incorporating drawing elements of line, texture, and material.

Hall and Alexander refer to their project as a form of wood vandalism because it’s occupying a public space without getting permission from the institution.

However, Alexander said their work is not destructive as it can be easily removed.

Ayanda Duma, a student spotted admiring the art, said that she was captured by it because it was her first time seeing abstract art in real life, “I like that it is something I can actually touch.”

Her friend, Nosipho Sokhela, likes that the art is in a space that everyone can see, and that one can tell what the art is despite being abstract.

Commenting on the name of the project, Duma said that if it is not negative, then it should not be considered vandalism. Similarly, accounting student Katya Ioulianou believes that if the art adds an element of fun and is not rude, it is not vandalism.

FEATURED IMAGE: Hall and Alexander’s wooden sculptures installed along the fountain. Photo: Tylin Moodley