Pebbles collected in an itinerant manner from the nine provinces of South Africa
Size: 3000mm X 2000mm
Gencor (now Billiton) head-office building, Johannesburg
The nine panels of pebbles in the foyer to the GENCOR auditorium are entitled PSEPHOS. The ancient Greeks cast small round stones, called psephos, in a large ceramic jar to register their vote. Today, the science of voting as a democratic process is called psephology. David knew the awesome power of these small stones. He used them in his slingshot to slay bears, lions and the mighty Goliath. To the Romans, the small pebble was a calculus. They used it to perform mathematical sums. Today, we still use the calculator.
In this work of art, carefully selected pebbles are presented as a metaphor. On the one hand, it stands for Gencor's mandate as one of the prominent custodians of Southern African mineral wealth, and on the other, of the democratic process that functions as a catalyst whereby all people realise their own dependency on and control of that wealth. The project wishes to confirm a respect for the necessity of a healthy autochthonous life that is the life of the children of the South African soil.
Each panel represents one of the nine new provinces of the fully democratic South Africa. On 27 April, 1994, all the residents of South Africa went to the polling station for the first time to vote in the nine new provinces. To celebrate these elections, the artist Willem Boshoff fetched two bags with two differently coloured small pebbles from each of the provinces. Instead of placing them in ancient urns, they were placed behind glass in boxes, resembling the modern ballot box. The pebbles are composed in the sign of the voter's cross. The work was installed in time for the inception of this building in June 1995.
The names of the provinces at the time of the elections in 1994, the pebbles and their locations are reflected in this diagram. The relative positions of the blocks are as they appear in the artwork. The first reference indicates the pebbles in the cross and the second, the pebbles in the background.
THE NINE NEW PROVINCES
Note that the names are as they were in South Africa at the time of the first democratic elections.
1. NORTHERN CAPE
2. NORTH WEST
3. NORTHERN TRANSVAAL
Mopane south of Messina
The Limpopo valley near Ellisras
4. ORANGE FREE STATE
Harrismith near the Sterkfontein Dam
Aliwal North on the Free State side of the Orange river
5. TRANSVAAL (Gauteng of today)
6. EASTERN TRANSVAAL (Today's Mpumalanga)
The Lowveld Botanical Garden, Nelspruit
The Blyde River at Vaalhoek, Bourkes Luck
7. WESTERN CAPE
The beach at Cape Augulhas
The Hex River valley at Jonkershoek, Worcester
8. EASTERN CAPE
Beach at East London
Beach at Umgazi river mouth, Port St Johns
9. KWA-ZULU NATAL
The Pongola River near Pongola
Winterton, near the Tugela River