AfrikaBurn 2024: 29 April to 5 May

HomeBurn: a trilogy in four parts ~ Part 2: The Phoenix at the End of the Pangolin

Words by Solar Santa with Nathan Victor Honey, May 2020
Photos by Nathan Honey except the one of himself (header image taken by Mark Thomas)

Solar Santa continues on his dusty virtual journey into the heart of HomeBurn 2020. This time we are in Sutherland with Nathan and it’s a wonderful story. Please join them as they explore the birthplace of the SKOP team and the unsung hero who makes it all happen.
[NB: if you missed the first part of this interview series, please check it out here.]
One of my great joys when attending the Burn is meeting the extremely talented and creative people. Nowhere else on the planet will you meet so many of them in one place. They work extremely long hours and get paid very little, if at all.  They are my unsung heroes.

nathan-honey-610x458-6985736 Automatic
Photo of Nathan Honey by Trevor Rosenfield

SS=Solar Santa, NVH=Nathan Victor Honey
SS: Your name appeared on the AB Facebook group all week. Your Pangolin was once again a masterpiece in construction. Tell us who designed it.
NVH: I designed it. More accurately – I drew a quick picture and then spent a few days figuring out how to build it.
Quick sketch by Nathan of Pangolin

SS: You were holed up in Sutherland. Did the SKOP team help you build it?
NVH: I went up to Sutherland for the funeral of one of the SKOP participants. My plan was to stay for a few days to receive and facilitate storage of a build by a Russian group that was shipped over for this year’s burn, but now needed to be stored till 2021. The day after the funeral the lockdown was announced. In spite of the fact that the Russian container would now be stuck at the harbour for a while, I made the decision to remain in Sutherland. Due to the recommended social distancing, (which by the way I fully support), I worked by myself, with occasional feedback from Isa. I could unfortunately not involve any of the individuals previously involved with SKOP. Being the first time in quite a while that I worked by myself on a project from start to finish, I quite enjoyed the process.

SS: Those scales required a ton of work. How did you cut them?
NVH: Once I’d completed the stylised frame, I realised I’d need to do a quick study of the actual shapes and patterns of the scales. Turned out it wasn’t quite as simple as I had assumed and figuring out a way to make them resemble those of a pangolin took up quite a bit of time, testing and redoing. All materials were sourced on site from my shed. Like everything else, the scales were sawn with a jigsaw and attached with screws.

SS: Who designed the Phoenix? What was her message and that of the Pangolin for the Burners?
NVH: The pangolin (seen as one of the possible original carriers of the virus) is not used as a symbol for the Covid 19 pandemic or the suffering associated with it or the accompanying regulations aimed at controlling it. Although it refers to the pandemic, I hope it contributes to highlighting the plight of the animal as the most trafficked mammal in the world and should be seen as representing all forms of life that suffer due to the destructive greed of humans.

The Phoenix, appearing from the flames, symbolises (as it does in, amongst others, Egyptian and Greek mythology) strength, renewal, and the rebirth of hope, coming from what could initially seem to be a senseless process of destruction.

SS: Would you do it again?
NVH: Yep.
SS: Who did you interact with the most to sort out any problems?
NVH: Most of my communication around HomeBurn was with Isa from Artcom.
SS: How did you stream your burn?
NVH: The actual burn took place on Saturday evening and was recorded with a cellphone. Assistance with sending the large recorded file to be shown on Sunday was given by Subhas Shah who also generously agreed to do some editing.
SS: What can you share with us that we do not know about HomeBurn? We only want happy stories.
NVH: I think the success of HomeBurn 2020 speaks of people’s resourcefulness in being creative in unlikely and seemingly unconducive circumstances.

There you have it Burners. More of the magic produced by brilliant people that make up our eclectic family. Stay tuned for part 3 where you will meet a wonderful lady from central casting.
Solar Santa.
May 2020.
For the first part of this story, please check here. And stay tuned for the next episode!

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