Piet erects rhino masterpieces


Looking at the latest works of sculptor Joseph Piet, particularly the three fibreglass rhinos, one cannot help but admire the mastery in the art.

Piet is one of the finest Thapong Visual Arts Centre craftsmen who have shown tremendous growth over the years.

The three white rhino sculptures are part of a campaign aimed at sensitising the public about the fate of the endangered species with each being erected in Maun, Gaborone and Francistown.

In Gaborone one sculpture is already on display at the Molapo Piazza and the white has been painted over in various colours.  

In Francistown it will be put up at the Civic Centre. The other sculpture will be displayed at the Maun Museum. Botswana Life Insurance is funding this project.

Piet said that while at first he did not know why the company wanted the sculptures, he was later humbled to know that they would be used for such a noble cause.

“At first I was just aiming to impress with a very good work of art, but once I learnt that they were meant to raise awareness about the fate of the rhinos I felt different.  I started doing it from the heart.  Tomorrow I can be proud that I have done my part in saving the white rhino,” he said.

Having the three sculptures in the public areas will surely boost Piet’s profile as an artist as they will be appreciated publicly.  The Kumakwane man said that was more fulfilling than the amount involved.

“I hope to inspire people in different ways. Someone who comes close to these sculptures could end up wanting to see the real animal and once they have seen it live, it could make them cherish it and add to the call to save rhinos.  There is also an artistic influence that could come out of this.  We have parents who often bash their young ones for dirtying themselves, but once they come close to these sculptures they could end up appreciating their children’s talents and actually encourage them,” he said.

Rhino poaching has been one of the most debated crimes around the world.  Africa has seen a steep rise of these cases with South Africa registering the highest number per year.  This is despite several costly campaigns by that country’s government and conservation organisations.

Asian poaching syndicates are believed to be behind the rhino killings. Rhino horns are said to be in high demand in countries like Japan where they are used for traditional medicines.

Following the high number of cases in South Africa, Botswana has been on high alert and several organisations are adding their weight to the campaign.

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