Artist puts corrugated iron on the map

By Vivien Horler Time of article published Apr 1, 2021

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Gloriously imperfect.

That’s how graphic designer and artist Mark Hilltout describes his “canvas” – old, used and often rusty corrugated iron.

Some of it dates back more than a century, used on a succession of roofs and eventually as the building material for homes in places like Khayelitsha.

Old sheets have lacy edges and come in a multiplicity of hues, from rusty reds to steely greys, and a kaleidoscope of paintcolours.

Hilltout collects sheets of corrugated iron from Khayelitsha and other towns around Cape Town, then bashes them flat.

What is revealed is a sheet of “living” metal, replete with the stripes of the original “ruga” or corrugations, along with a patina of a long life in the wind, rain and sun.

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Apart from adding a varnish finish to bring out the colours and the imperfections, Hilltout, 73, often does nothing more to his “canvasses”. He hangs some unadorned as abstract art. In other cases he creates pictures: a Karoo landscape in shades of ochre and tan using different slices of iron, or city scapes, or overcast cloudscapes.

Mark Hilltout describes how he discovered corrugated iron as a medium

Video: Vivian Warby

The different sections of iron are clipped together with staples.

He says: “I don’t look for certain colours – I find them. I don’t choose certain surfaces – they are simply there. I am at the mercy of time and the elements and I know better than to try to compete with either.”

Video: Vivian Warby

His work will be on view at his gallery/ home in Ravenscraig Road, Woodstock on April 1 to mark First Thursday. Axis Gallery is doing the exhibition with Hilltout and also exhibiting will be Nicolas Lehmann and Herman van Nazareth.

Hilltout says: “It’s April Fool’s Day – it should be fun. And we have an opera singer, Nica Reinke, coming, who will be wandering around singing while your eyes can look at the walls, look at the art and look at the sculptures. Oh, it’s going to be nice – I would definitely pop in.”

• Mark Hilltout, Unit 12, Ravenscraig Mews 6, RavenscraigRoad, Woodstock. Or see www.markhilltout.com

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