Blown by Wind – King Protea (Protea Cynaroides)

Smoke on glass, wooden frame, led strip (30cm x 30cm x 4.5cm)

Fire is crucial in the preservation of fynbos and in the absence of it, large parts of the fynbos ecosystem would slowly die and be substituted by alien species. The smoke on glass element of the artworks represent the dependence germination and the healthy growth fynbos have on controlled and well managed fire. The work can only be seen view by a window or a light source as it is transparent on both sides. This signifies another source of heat that triggers growth - the sun and the process of photosynthesis.

Before a fire, the King Protea (‘serotinous’ seed) produces seeds and retains them during that fire. The plant dies but the seeds are spread by wind and only germinate in the first winter after a fire. The seeds need a short amount of time exposed to the environment after fires occur in either late summer or early autumn, otherwise they dry out or are eaten by rodents. This happens when the time between distributed seeds and winter is vast - as would be in the instance after a spring fire.

Resource: Esler, K.J, Pierce S. M & de Villiers C. (eds), 2014. Fynbos: Ecology and Management. 1stedition. South Africa: Briza Publications, pp. 45 – 50