Acclaimed South African sculptor and jeweller Nic Bladen is known for his intricate depictions of flowers, seedpods, and leaves. Nic’s background in dental technology, fused with knowledge of bronze casting, has enabled him to create a new way of preserving/fossilizing plants and flowers with unmatched delicacy and detail. The method he uses, known as ‘lost wax casting’, involves creating moulds from actual organic material, and then producing one-off pieces of jewellery or sculptures, sometimes of entire plants from root-tip to flowers.
Nic’s impetus is the recording of biodiversity, as he believes that his plant castings have a documentative value, in addition to being beautiful pieces of art. Living in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest yet richest floral kingdom in the world, Nic is uniquely positioned to draw attention to the plight of red data species.
In his first solo exhibition, Peninsula (Everard Read, October 2013), Nic focused on the richness of botanical diversity in the immediate surroundings of his Simonstown studio. Concessions from landowners in the area enabled him to harvest such rarities as a blue disa and the peninsulaMendemic Serruria Villosa, as well as species of Amaryllis, Protea and Erica, amongst others.
From February to May 2015, Nic worked as ArtistMinMResidence at Tswalu Kalahari, a game reserve in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. The sculptures that he created during this time depict the iconic, beautiful and strange Kalahari desert plants and trees.