"My life should not be measured by the distance I have walked,
but rather by the questions I have asked along the way".
"It is in nature that I find a wild, gentle, raw and soothing beauty –
this is what I seek to celebrate as an artist.
And it is in nature that I also find the quiet space to reflect on who I am,
and what it means to be human in these times of such profound change –
this is what I seek as a human being."
Born in Cape Town on Christmas day in 1963, Noel Ashton's career and life has been governed by a relentless dedication to his creativity. But, in trying to comprehend the wide body of work he has produced over the years, the complexity and diversity makes it difficult to gain a clear comprehension of the person behind it all.
It has been suggested that his creative output has been determined by his range of skills and abilities, but this only partially offers us an answer to this question, and it is only when we look to the underlying passions and personal motivations that we can begin to see a clear direction - and that his sculpture and painting, his writing, public programmes, even his scientific research and publications are governed by a deep and meaningful engagement with the world around him; with a special focus on nature and the natural environment, and the challenges we all face along the unfolding journey we each take as human beings in search of joy, meaning and purpose.
Probably his most powerful work has occurred when there is a convergence at a fundamental level, when his environmental insights and questioning are brought together in a search to better comprehend not only ourselves as complex human beings, but at that point where this intersects with the dynamics of living and impacting the wider natural world. It is these programmes that offer us valuable glimpses into ourselves and our interactions that begins to offer answers to the pressing environmental and social questions we are facing in modern times. This is when Noel's voice becomes clear and concise, and with a conviction that has inspired others, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jonathan Oppenheimer, international organizations and programmes to align with him and his vision.
But at his essence is a quiet and passionate artist who seeks to find a way to speak of the beauty he encounters in the world, and in this he helps us to see the beauty within ourselves.
Click here to read about Noel's life story