Sunday, April 10, 2011

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER .... at least in human years


Bill Hart's mural is monitored 24/7 by security cameras
From what I can gather, this mural in Kimberely is Bill's last surviving public artwork. It was commissioned by Hanns Bergs (see previous blog) for the De Beers diamond sorting building located in Kimberley and erected in 1974. Here it stands in it's full glory: 5 x 10 meters, resulting in 60 panels of sheer brilliance! Modelled in clay and cast in plaster, it is a fairly durable material (although disasterous if it ever were to fall from the wall!).

Bill's artwork always had a sense of timelessness about it: he would mold the shapes of his sculptures not with precision, instead, he welcomed imperfections. He would allow scrapes and jagged edges which would represent the weathered appeal of objects over space and time. It is for this reason that Bill's artwork, and I refer to this one in particular, stands proud and undarnished from the past 37 years.

setting up the panels for construction of the mural
 Bill is aided by friend & fellow artist, Keith Alexander

Bill models the clay to create his signature shapes

detail of the finished product

Hanns once told me a funny antidote about this mural:

   When Bill and Keith were finally assembling the enormous mural on site in Kimberley, I often went to supervise the building construction and watched Bill and Keith labour to lift up the heavy panels which were then fixed to the concrete wall. When I arrived on this day, I had the gut feeling that the mural was somehow smaller then Bill had promised and so after much discussion, Bill finished the argument by saying that as an artist he was entitled to change his mind and make the mural smaller!  "OK", I said, "but then we will will have to reduce the payment due to you!" He didn't like that at all and we finally agreed that the mural looked great and suited the design of the building.
   After some years, we all had a drink at my house when I showed Bill the maquette of the mural, which was decidedly longer than the mural in Kimberley. Bill then admitted that he and Keith had "f...d" up and had made the mural some 6 panels shorter and they were desparately hoping I wouldn't notice! Needless to say, we opened another bottle of wine and had a good laugh about the whole thing.

A short video pan of the building, designed with slanted & tinted windows to aid the sorting of precious diamonds. But the gem I admire most appears at the end of this clip...

a BIG THANKS to Hanns and the people of HOH who allowed me
to touch some REAL diamonds and spend time with Bill's mural.


  1. Dear Maia,
    Please email me to get more info on Bill whom we knew fairly well: info .at.
    Fernand F. Haenggi

  2. I kindly ask for permission to use the information in this post on our Info Page on the Oppenheimer House in Kimberley (With credit and a back link)