Artist Statement – ‘Something that Rolls Up’

Title: ‘Something that rolls up’

Medium: # 3 Glass beads, woven

Commissioned by: The Department of Arts and Culture of South Africa

Artists: Such Initiative (Usha Seejarim and Hannelie Coetzee) together with 52 beaders from the Valley of a Thousand Hills working from Woza Moya from the Hillcrest Aids Centre, KZN

Year: 2011

The beaded artwork will grow each day for the duration of COP17 as panels are added to complete the narrative of a pangolin that unrolls from it protective posture to one of freedom. The complete series will be translated into a stop frame animation.

What is a pangolin and why is he the subject of this artwork?

Pangolins are often called “scaly anteaters,” and are covered in tough, overlapping scales. These burrowing mammals eat ants and termites using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue, and are able to quickly roll themselves up into a tight ball when threatened. The name “pangolin” is derived from the Malay word pengguling (“something that rolls up”).

The artwork is a contribution to the discourse around COP17 in that it speaks to Biomimicry as a source of wisdom: i.e. looking to nature to find solutions. And in this case the characteristic of the Pangolin that we are most attracted to is its highly developed sense of solving problems. Although their innovative skills are primarily used to find food in obscure locations, when kept in captivity pangolins are remarkable escape artists.

For us these creatures that are native to tropical regions of Africa and Asia represent a positive way forward to addressing issues around climate change. This modest and seemingly meek creature is a symbol of innovation and creative and lateral thinking; qualities fundamental to the approach regarding the future of our planet.


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