Mark Rautenbach first harnessed the constructive power of fire through his artwork, "p[h]i(re)". His aesthetic fire, made from crocheted flames, symbolised his personal breakthrough from the bad habit of burning his artworks. He had learnt the destructive behaviour from his father, a Springbok model aeroplane maker who regularly burnt his planes. "Fire is a symbol of transformation. It changes the state of a material. There is an actual fire and an alchemical fire. The alchemical art fire is the energy which transforms base matter into art," Rautenbach explains. In 2010 he began working with liminal matter — the stuff that exists between worlds. He had taken his minimalism and environmental consciousness to extremes by not throwing anything away for a full year.

The stuff that could not be recycled or composted began to represent the waste in his psychological matter. In a gruelling process of "pulling myself together", Rautenbach patiently and repetitively threaded and bound ...

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