Janet Botes

You could say that I have fallen in love with the beautiful Knysna Leaf-folding frog, also known as the Knysna Banana Frog or the Knysna Reed Frog. When I saw photos of this elusive, rare and endemic amphibian, I was reminded of my research for my body of work ‘ORGANISM’, particularly regarding the following: Human embryos resemble the embryos of any other mammal, bird or amphibian during certain developmental stages because all animals carry very ancient genes dating back to the origin of cells. We’re created from the same dust, elements and atoms and governed by the same natural laws – even though our human-made laws don’t grant the same rights to other organisms.

At the same time, while I am writing this, we have hundreds of tadpoles in the garden pond, although the kingfishers in the area will bring their numbers down significantly. Two animal groups stand out for me when I think of the concept ‘metamorphosis’, and the frogs are one them. The other group represents the many insects that go through a pupae stage from which they emerging as adult members. Frogs spawn and grow as little tadpoles who grow legs as they mature, these changes are visible (since they don’t spin themselves into a cocoon), and are thus a very strong symbol of transformation for me – not only biological transformation, but they are a symbol to me of the transformation in human thinking that is happening – a change in the way we perceive our place in the ecosystem – as part of it, not above it – and among our fellow species – as another inter-dependent species, not as ‘overlord’. Transformation is happening, and the dialogues are happening, even though slowly we are growing, changing, finding new understandings as the human species.

Janet is currently based in Wilderness, but travels often for arts residencies or land art projects. Her work ranges widely from ephemeral land art, and small  watercolour paintings to sculptures made from waste, or graphic design for environmental organisations.