The story behind "Dawid van die Wolve" by martin osner

Updated: Nov 8


I have heard it said that an acre of diamonds could often be found in one's own back yard, or in this case, somebody else's.


Here is the story behind my new artwork, "Dawid van die Wolve" (David of the Wolves) which is currently on exhibition.


It was September 2020, and we were in the final stages of preparation with the opening of our new gallery in Woodstock. The aftermath of the first wave of Covid-19 was still heavy as stresses and strains continued to loom unabated. I felt that my family and I needed to get away for just a weekend. A quick breakaway to the mountains to squeeze out some personal time and perhaps as a bonus, shoot one or two new prints for the opening exhibition in October. After another couple of late nights shopfitting at the gallery, we were finally running ahead of schedule, so I sat down to book a place believing that there would be an abundance of accommodation available. Boy was I wrong, place after place turned up fully booked, it seemed that the whole of Cape Town had had the same idea to head for the countryside for that weekend.


Fortunately, a gentleman from a self-catering unit in the Karoo phoned back to say he could accommodate us for a few nights. I must confess I love going to places that I have never been to before, so without checking out the area on google, we paid the deposit, packed the vehicle and headed off north. About fifty kilometres from where we were going to be staying the topography flattened off into a vast semi-arid area as far as the eye could see, synonymous with the Karoo, and I realised that photography might not be high on the list for this trip.


We drove into the property and headed down a dirt road towards the farmhouse. Great for a weekend away alright, quiet and good for family time, but that was about it.


After unpacking and cracking open a few cold beers, we settled down for the afternoon. About an hour or so before last light, I decided to go for a walk around the property to see what I could find. I followed a pathway around a small hill, which finally led to the backyard of the owner's home, where I stumbled across an odd scene which was quite out of context.


Perched on a concrete pedestal in front of a small outbuilding was of a sculpture of a male torso wearing broken glasses and what appeared from a distance to be a wire hat. On closer inspection, the wire hat turned out to be a head-scratcher. Odd I know, but beautifully creative for art. So without asking too many questions, I went back to fetch my camera to photograph the statue I since named Dawid. No additional lighting needed, just a tripod to help with the failing light, and that was it. One composition, one-shot, done and dusted. Dawid was now heading back to Cape Town, to be exhibited in Woodstock.


Later that weekend, the owners explained that the statue was "kidnapped" from a company office where it was on display as a proud mascot—abducted due to a disagreement when the farm owners used to work in corporate in the city. Now he finds himself out in the middle of the Karoo, martyred on a pedestal a short distance from the main house. To make matters worse, poor old Dawid was also regularly shot as target practice when the subject was brought up in conversation.



And the wire head-scratcher I asked, oh no the owner said that was left behind after a rave party—all super mysterious but totally creative.


So where does the "Wolve" "Afrikaans for wolf" come into the title. Well you see, David was now kept hostage near a place called Wolvefontein, so the title felt justified. The lesson? Simple, don't title your photographs after a couple of beers.