Other Animals

1994 - 2000

Initially, the search for an animal metaphor for wilderness took Lewis into an exploration of various African animals. What has always driven Lewis has been his passion for wilderness and all of his subjects function as metaphors for landscape through which he can communicate his deeper concerns. Whatever his animal subjects, Lewis has always given them the surface textures of the African landscape, imbuing their literal forms with abstract attributes and thus blurring the boundary between the animal and the natural world it inhabits.

In his early sculptures Lewis experimented with working directly in front of the animal, but as time progressed he would sketch from life and then return to his studio where he would interpret the sketches in sculpture.
When he first engaged with large scale sculpture there were many technical challenges Lewis had to overcome, and in this work he used the unorthodox process of drying plaster with fire.
Over the years Lewis has supported many African conservation initiatives. The life-size black rhino was commissioned by then Natal Parks Board for its centenary celebrations. The first edition was unveiled by then president Nelson Mandela and still stands in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi National Park in KwaZulu-Natal, where it was made.
The larger African wild animals presented the sculptor with an opportunity to embrace scale, and also, he saw these as fitting vehicles through which to convey the enormity and power of the landscape they inhabitant.