Trevor Nott is a nature lover and conservationist, a self-taught architect and designer, a visionary and, last but not least, an artist – which he bizarrely doesn’t aspire to be. But he has no choice in the matter; he is an artist by nature!
During the 1980s, Trevor worked as a plant ecologist for Etosha and northern Namibia. This is where his love affair with Kaokoland and Damaraland began. After 10 years of working in science, this proud Namibian moved to Omaruru where he still lives today. It is here where his “creative career” took a significant turn – he started making furniture from railway sleepers and scrap wood which in the 1980s was not done by anyone else in Namibia. The artist is without doubt a visionary with a clear focus on creating anything novel. “I get an idea, and I think about how I am going to depict it. I create a concept and then I make it,” he says. Sometimes he also just makes something because it works. The process is never the same.
In his sculptures, Trevor artfully combines metal, wood and stone – all of which are collected with precision, forethought and respect. Circle of Life, by far the most significant and mind-blowing piece of the exhibition, is made from found basalt stone and metal and is a force to be reckoned with. This 2.20-metre-tall outdoor sculpture (in fact, most of the exhibition’s sculptures are outdoor sculptures) has a circular shape and within this shape there are six single rings that can each be rotated. The sculpture is three-dimensional in such a way that visitors can position the single rings in any way they want to. It is interactive creativity at the highest level. With this piece the artist wants to show how the circle of life is unpredictable and forever changing, and what repercussions life can have on everything around us.
The artist never takes wood from a living tree; it is always wood that nature has decided to lay bare. “I believe that when using a natural resource to create a piece, the result should be more meaningful than it is in its natural state. Wood that lies out there in the desert is exquisite where it is – in fact, there couldn’t be a better gallery.”
What earth manages to make sustainably available in a raw form can be transformed into something quite different. Human beings can relate to this transformation on many levels.
The stones which the artist uses add texture to the sculptures, and even they are chosen with precision. “When you go and collect stones you have to be very mindful because everything you remove leaves a gap and has consequences.” One of the stone sculptures at the exhibition is held upright only with metal. It has an exemplary shape in which single stones spiral around a centre piece which is also made up exclusively of stones. It looks like the stones are floating, held by a barely visible metal structure.
Trevor’s work is simple, abstract and inspired by art from Africa, especially Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. Looking back at the works he has done, he can see that the objects often mirror what is going on in his life or reflect an issue he is faced with.
Diagnosed with a possible life-threatening illness, Trevor took stock of his life and decided to exhibit in a gallery for the first time ever. It was important for him to keep his mind positive and the only way he could do that was to be in his workshop and create. The works in this exhibition therefore sometimes reflect his illness but are also ideas that have been in his mind for a long time but were never executed. Through his work he was able to forget everything, and this was his way of dealing with his health challenges.
Trevor Nott’s artworks are humbling. They reflect respect for the natural environment and his passion for making things with his own hands. The time taken to admire an art piece seems trivial in comparison to the time that it takes to make it. With this exhibition the artist gives tribute and expresses gratitude to nature and its gifts that were millions of years in the making. Trevor describes his experiences in the desert: “When you travel around the desert it does something to you – it humbles you.”
Homage to Earth, an exhibition of sculptures by Trevor Nott, will be showcased at the BELLHAUS Atelier and Galerie at 18 Bell Street in Windhoek from Thursday, 9 February until
Saturday, 25 March 2023.