Werner Olivier, Flora Olivier, Arnold Gwaze

Professor of Mathematics and Director of Centre
Govan Mbeki Mathematics Development Centre, Nelson Mandela University
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The colleagues who produced this artwork are employed at the Nelson Mandela University. Part of their academic duties involve working with learners from poor communities. This include the promotion of STEAM education and experiential learning involving problem-solving with designs where tessellations, fractals and other geometrical shapes of cultural origins are used. This artwork was inspired by a desire to collaborate in creating an original African statement about historic connections between mathematics and art.
Werner Olivier is a mathematician who enjoys experimenting with art in STEAM education.
Flora Olivier is a retired electrical engineer and artist.
Arnold Gwaze is a maths educator, STEAM enthusiast and amateur artist.

Fractal Tessellatum Afrika
Fractal Tessellatum Afrika
60 x 90 x 2 cm
Cotton fabric, seashells, seed beads

Africa is the cradle of mankind and also the custodian of a range of historic artifacts and geometric patterns of symbolic and cultural origin. A prime example is the growth patterns of Cowrie shells - the world’s first currency used more than 3000 years ago. Geometric decorative patterns used with natural material(s) in a mixed medium, such as seashells and seed beads, are widely used in African art to this day. We chose the Opus Tessellatum mosaic style from ancient Greek and Roman times to emphasize outlines of the fractal shapes of Africa. The tesserae across the fractal pattern was done with traditional South African ShweShwe fabric which represents the rich and diverse celebration of mathematical patterns on the African continent.