Klara-Marie Den Heijer

‘Kompas’ is the Afrikaans word for a seafarer’s compass, from the Latin compassare: com “with together” + passus “a step”.

The artwork KOMPAS touches on notions of orientation and navigation. The artwork imitates architectural aspects of the space it is exhibited in with its circular design and cross-shaped skylight. The installation consists of four wayfinders suspended from the ceiling and allowed to rotate around their own central axis. Each wayfinder is a grid-like framework constructed with bamboo sticks criss-crossing each other and tied in place with black thread, much like a Polynesian navigation stick chart.

There are twelve wings attached to each structure which turns in the slightest breeze. These wings are made from starched fabric cut into quarter-circles and glued to the bamboo. The variety of their colours is achieved by dying the fabric with mineral pigments mixed with a soy milk binder, borrowing from the traditional Japanese process called Katazome. The long protein molecules of soya create bonds between pigment particles and fabric fibres.

The colour comes from the artist’s handmade pigment collection. These pigments were extracted from found substances such as clay, earth, ochre, sand, bricks and ash. The materials were gathered by the artist from the places she has travelled to in South Africa and further abroad.