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Spier Architectural Arts

Walking on Words

Walking on Words, a site-specific ceramic paving intervention on the occasion of the International Poetry Festival Dancing in Other Words has successfully been installed.

The annual poetry festival, curated by Breyten Breytenbach, took place at Spier for the first time May 2013. Eleven internationally renowned poets gathered at Spier for one week to explore poetry’s age-old function as “the dreaming vein in the body of society”. The group included Nobel Prize frontrunners, political dissidents, activists and award-winning literary figures from South Africa, the Republic of Korea, China, the USA, Germany, Holland, Slovenia and Israel.

To commemorate the event, the Architectural Arts Ceramic Studio created a series of handmade ceramic paving tiles, with handwritten poems by each participating poet transposed onto their surfaces.

The handwritten poetry tiles were created using a rich variety of techniques not normally associated with a ceramic studio. The words of each poet were etched into perspex with a laser engraver to create a fine stamp to embed the poets’ writing into clay. QR codes were stamped onto thin squares of clay and transferred to the clay slab. Each QR code links to the relevant poet’s poem on the Dancing with Words website. The tiles were then sprayed with various colours, allowed to dry before being bisque fired and beautifully glazed to 1200’C in a kiln (clay oven).

Installed on the walkway outside the Spier Wine Centre, visitors can take a literary walk on words and read poetry in the paving. Be sure to visit the artwork when you’re at Spier!

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