In 2018 the geoglyph project moved beyond the boundaries of the arid Karoo and entered the desert in Namibia near Aus in honour of the wild Namib Desert Horse.
The Site_Specific Geoglyph Art project is driven by Anni Snyman and her brother PC van Rensburg, a powerful team combining the skills of a visual artist and an architect. Together they design and plan the logistics of each project, taking along a Site_Specific Collective team of supporters, volunteers and artists to help render each earth drawing, activating temporary land and nature artworks on site.
The purpose of each project is to honour and respect the selected site, the animals that live there, and the human communities that surround them. Local community members are enlisted wherever possible, becoming co-creators and custodians of the earth drawings once the Site_Specific team leaves.
Team members from all over South Africa join each project, traveling from their respective corners of the country.
To date Anni Snyman and PC van Rensburg with the Site_Specific team have created two temporary earth drawings (Earth Siren, Tankwa, 2009. Riverine Rabbit light drawing, Richmond, 2012) and three permanently maintained geoglyphs (Snake Eagle Thinking Path, Matjiesfontein, 2015. Riverine Rabbit Thinking Path, Loxton, 2016. Desert Horse Geoglyph of Aus, Namibia, 2018.)
To find out more about the Karoo Geoglyph project, please visit
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Background image: Point-of-view on the Klein-Aus Vista site for the Desert Horse Geoglyph of Aus. Photo by Gwen Meyer. June 2018.
2018 : Desert Horse Geoglyph of Aus
In June 2018 the Site_Specific volunteers tackled the task of drawing a Desert Horse geoglyph at Klein-Aus Vista on the edge of the Namib desert.
The scaling technique
To create large-scale geoglyphs or earth drawings the team use a scaling technique that allows them to convert a small drawing divided into equal squares, to a large-scale drawing. The grid is enlarged on the landscape using poles and rope, and the drawn lines are replicated in each square, automatically enlarging the drawing. The enlarged drawing can be viewed from above or via Google Earth.
At Matjiesfontein and Loxton the Umvoto engineering team created square grids using satellite technology, but at Aus the artists used a simple rope-and-peg compass to draw circles in the sand, transferring the scaled-up drawing circle-by-circle instead of square-by-square.
A perspectival drawing
At Aus the drawing has to be an anamorphic drawing - to be seen from a particular vantage point 630 metres away, and at an elevation of 153 metres. The horse is galloping westwards along an existing path towards a crossroad, and the artists had to distort the drawing so that it seems correct from the view point.
Thus the perspective had to be reversed and on-site undulating terrain had to be compensated for. Without a GoPro drone or cellphone connections, this required repeated trips to the vantage point to gauge progress and correct for errors using a two-way radio. The drawing had to be erased three times before a final rendition proved satisfactory. An additional challenge was that the angle of the afternoon sun over the winter solstice period made it impossible to see the drawing from the viewpoint after two pm.
The 141 (ear to hoof) x 61 (tail to nose) metre geoglyph was constructed using recycled 30 year old fence poles and is now in the nurturing hands of Klein-Aus Vista's owners who will visually strengthen and maintain it over time. Unlike its predecessors the Desert Horse Geoglyph of Aus has to be viewed from a view point, not via google earth.
The geoglyph was created in honour of the Namib Desert Horses that live here alongside indigenous wildlife such as ostriches, oryx's and hyena's.
Increased desertification across the Southern African region, combine with man-made fences which prevent animals from migrating to water and grazing resources, have trapped these animals in a vice-like grip of climate-driven extermination.
As the migratory crises increases for both animals and humans, this project hopes to help shift narratives around border fences and territories, allowing all species to once again move freely as natural resources shift and fluctuate in response to a changing global climate system.
In June 2018 Anni Snyman was interviewed by Eloise Kupido from 'Verander Dinge' (Change Things) on KykNet, an Afrikaans cable channel in South Africa. The following insert was part of the programme – english subtitles have been added.
The making-of process has been documented in our Geoglyph Art, Desert Horse Geoglyph of Aus photo album on Pinterest.
- Project initiated by Linda de Jager, Endgame Media
- Accommodation and Site sponsored by Klein-Aus Vista Desert Horse Inn - Piet en Christine Swiegers, Willem and Ingeborg Swiegers
- Food sponsored and prepared by Lettie Janse van Rensburg
- Anni Snyman
- PC Janse van Rensburg
- Ingrid Schöffman
- Izak Volgraaff
- Gwen Meyer
- Elma Giliomee
- Eugenie Grobler
- Michelle Kruger
- Andrea Brand
- Janet Ranson
- Zbys Kaczmarek
Site_Specific Collective's imagery is available for use under the Creative Commons attribution copyright guidelines. Our artists, photographers, videographers and film makers volunteer their time and energy to a project that is about addressing the imbalance in our relationship with nature and our fellow earthly beings.
You are welcome to use this material for non-profit purposes to promote aspects close to our heart on condition that you reference the project, the artists, the photographers, the sponsors and the issues associated with the projects we engage.
If you wish to publish or exhibit or broadcast any of our materials, please contact media at sitespecific dot org dot za for more information. If you'd like to support our project please contact donation at sitespecific dot org dot za, thank you.