For Mandela Day 2017 Johannesburg based artist James Delaney is making 67 sculptures of owls, and hanging them in a yellowwood forest, in a park called The Wilds…

Through this he hopes to help draw people back, as they stopped visiting many years ago. He is aware that if our green spaces aren’t used, they won’t be protected.

It’s an amazing space of 40 acres of indigenous bush, well located for inner city and suburban residents. To realise this dream and save this beautiful park James has started a Thundafund.com crowdfunding campaign to raise the required R150 000.

What’s is The Wilds like these days?

40 acres of indigenous plants, laid out almost a century ago, with stone walkways and magnificent trees. It’s previously been maintained satisfactorily, but for the past two years James has started to clear old undergrowth and prune trees, and it’s starting to feel much more open, safe and attractive.

It had a bad name for security after some incidents about 15 years ago, but has since been fenced and has 24-hour security at the entrance on Joe Slovo Drive. But few people venture in.

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Why art?

Art catches the imagination, and owls have a magical quality. I hope the combination will engage with Jo’burg residents and inspire them to take back this long-forgotten space, and give it some love again.

James is an artist with an interest in Jo’burg’s history, nature and wildlife. He’s drawn dozens of owls and invited some other artists to draw their owls too. They will hang these owls in the trees of The Wilds.

How they’re made

First, James sketches the owls using charcoal in his studio. Then they go to the good people at Aluminium Trading, who laser-cut each owl from metal. Then a coat of paint is applied and maybe a few adjustments are made, before they are taken into the forest to be installed.

Working with City Parks to improve the whole park

James has been working closely with Jo’burg City Parks. It’s part of a bigger plan to clean the space and make it more useable. There’s lots more to do – pruning, clearing, fixing up old greenhouses, etc.

What the money gets used for

Before they launched, Aluminium Trading kindly offered to sponsor the metal and laser cutting. So the funding can now be used for fixing up the park and installing educational signage – teaching people about the importance of taking care of natural spaces, birds and owls in particular.

The Tipping Point (R25 000) pays for computer edits ready for laser cutting, clearing of the forest, and the installation of the owls up in the trees.

The Dream Funding Goal (R150 000) pays for educational signage around the installation and the park, to teach kids about caring for owls, other birds, trees and the environment.

Campaign Link: https://thundafund.com/project/owls