RAW Episodes is a series of G-Star RAW collaborations that showcase unconventional artists, creators, and craftsmen. The second episode features the multitalented South African artist, Daniel Popper.
Daniel is known for creating massive installations at festivals and events around the world. Now he’s expanding his talents by designing the interior for a new Cape Town nightclub and building the four story Nelson Mandela Tree of Wisdom.
We visited Daniel in Cape Town to discuss everything involved in his creations, from the initial inspiration, research and raw materials, to the collaborations with people who help him get it made.
The studio Daniel works in is filled with art pieces from the past, like his large party robots made from recycled wood that shoot lasers from their eyes, and drawings and models of projects that are currently in construction, like his model for a phoenix that he’s making for a festival in Australia.
With such diverse projects, Daniel enjoys the challenge of having to quickly learn about a variety of materials. “If I’m making a sculpture and I don’t have a big budget, I’ll often try to find recycled or reclaimed materials, so I’ll go to the recycling dumps or to saw mills and try to get off-cuts and try to use those however best I can.”
Daniel likes the workwear quality of G-Star. “For me, functionality is always the best choice when it comes to fashion. What’s really cool about the work that I do is that it allows me to just be myself every day. So whatever clothes I put on that day I know that I am being true to myself and I don’t have to dress up for anyone or any occasion.”
Daniel takes lots of inspiration from all the beauty that Cape Town has to offer. “Cape town is an amazing combination of nature and architecture. It’s a city with one of the most diverse natures in the world… taking time out in nature really helps me to relax and opens up pathways to creativity.”
THE NELSON MANDELA TREE OF WISDOM
He’s constructing his biggest project to date with the fabrication team at the Rootform art factory. It’s a four-story tree he was asked to design in honour of Nelson Mandela for the Nelson Mandela School for science and technology being built in the Transkei region of South Africa.
“The sculpture represents the knowledge and wisdom of our most important leader and what is possible when the human imagination and technology come together." The sculpture is Daniel’s first permanent installation, designed with the hopes that it will inspire the students for years to come.