Collaboration is in our nature as is a desire to recognise potential, give a platform to talent and enable creativity to thrive. It’s why we’re so delighted to be teaming up with Formula One chief mechanic turned carbon fibre sculptor Alastair Gibson in support of Zip Zap Circus which inspires and empowers young people in South Africa through performing arts.
Gibson has long been a champion of young people. Even at the height of his 22-year motorsports career he dedicated time and energy to offering children with life-limiting medical conditions and their families the chance to see inside the inner workings of the Grand Prix racetrack.
Now in his fifteenth year as an artist producing engineering inspired sculpture using carbon fibre as his medium, Gibson regularly welcomes work experience students into his studio to offer hands-on opportunities working with this futuristic material. He has also trained youngsters from apprentice level up and has an endless reservoir of patience and knowledge to impart.
Born in 1962 near Johannesburg, Gibson grew up exposed to the social injustices of apartheid. When the opportunity arose to become involved in a unique project in aid of Zip Zap Circus, which promotes unity and offers opportunities to learn extraordinary skills through its youth and outreach programmes, it was a cause which Gibson was keen to build a connection with.
Using his flair for manipulating carbon fibre into eye-catching sculpture, Gibson was commissioned to produce a Tintin rocket inspired wine display case to raise funds for Zip Zap Circus. The ‘Grapes From The Moon’ artwork raised thousands of pounds to support their incredible work.
Following the successful auction of the original sculpture, a further limited-edition series of three pieces was created in red, black and silver. Each artwork is made from aluminium and carbon fibre and presented with a bespoke flight case featuring one of Gibson’s thought-provoking sayings. Beautifully executed, it’s hoped the trio of sculptures will generate much needed funds for new premises for Zip Zap Circus.
“The kids involved in Zip Zap Circus are given self-belief and a way forward out of violence and crime,” advocates Gibson. “It offers them a sense of being and purpose in a supportive group of people. Not everybody has to perform, there are ways to get involved behind the scenes too as stagehands or directors, incorporating everybody and their own expertise.”
Having lived in Cape Town and witnessed life in the townships first hand, Gibson is passionate about offering young people a positive route forward. “Zip Zap Circus is a place for people with talent and a place for people with skills, being part of it is to be part of a group of travelling workers,” says Gibson, no stranger to the teamwork required to succeed in the engineering world.
The sculptures are presented with magnums of specially labelled ‘Tranquillity’ wine, paying homage to the lunar landings in the Sea of Tranquillity. ‘A red wine out of this world’, it is a Rioja Reserva wine from the innovative and pioneering producers Marqués de Riscal and was a favourite of the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí.
Wine has an important connection with the ‘Grapes From The Moon’ sculptures. The original piece was presented with wine donated to Gibson by Zip Zap Circus which was produced from grapes from the ‘Old Lady’ grapevine in Heritage Square, Cape Town. Planted in 1771, it is the oldest fruit-bearing vine in South Africa and still thrives within the celebrated urban renewal project.
Written by Emma Bovill for Arto