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West Coast Fossil Park

Workshop: 14 – 17 March 2023

Exhibition: 17 March – 30 April 2023

Presenter: Prof. Elfriede Dreyer

CONTACT: | +27 83 2712342



The EVOLVE workshop took place in the beautiful and fascinating  environment of the West Coast Fossil Park near Langebaan. It is approximately 130Km from Cape Town as well as the CT airport. The Park is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil and faunal remains that date to the terminal Miocene/early Pliocene (c. 5.2 million years ago). A national and international team of researchers are currently unravelling the fascinating and unique history of fossils from the West Coast Fossil Park and attempting to recreate the environment and climate of the west coast some 5 million years ago. At this time many animals that are now extinct, such as saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and African bears, roamed the west coast which then had a more subtropical climate with lush, riverine forests and open grasslands. In this very special environment the dig with the fossils can be viewed as well as life-size maquettes and photos of the extinct animals. Participants experienced the particular landscape and vegetation of the area. This environment acted as a stimulus for the workshop on the development of ideas surrounding archive, history, evolution and growth (as a result of specific existing conditions), applied to specific artmaking techniques.


The workshop’s theme of EVOLVE was not directly concerned with extinct animals or the beautiful landscape of the West Coast per se. We considered the notion of animality and human beings’ relationship with animals and experienced the land. Our objective was for the environment to serve as a stimulus for the development of ideas surrounding change, evolution, progress, decline, cause and effect, spontaneous happening and process. In this regard we firstly worked with processes of spontaneous ‘happenings’, happy accidents and free-flowing creativity. We used pouring techniques and mixed materials, and let media do what they want, but controlled them in accordance with ideas. As a second strategy we explored layering techniques in response to the archival surroundings of the Park. Advanced experimental thinking and creativity were cultivated and developed. There was focus on each participant’s individual art production, techniques and thought processes. Each participant produced several artworks during the workshop and the best thereof went on exhibition.


The exhibition functioned as a culmination to the workshop and all participants had the opportunity to exhibit their work in the exhibition spaces of the Park building. The exhibition opened on Friday 17 March 2023. Work was for sale.

Images of the Park and the workshop

Images of the EVOLVE exhibition

Selected works are for sale, for prices please enquire with Elfriede, whatsapp at +27 832712342

EVOLVE exhibition
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