The Horse Marionette in action
The Horse Marionette posed
The Rocking Springbuck
The Rocking Springbuck
The Birdman, when the rod is pushed his wings open up.
The Birdman: when the rod is pulled his beak closes.
Flying Lizard flaps it's wings when his body is pushed down
The Flying Lizard
The Seadog close up
The Seadog showing its movable interlinked body.

Dear Harry

Thank you for your time. I love your magazine and have used it many times to find inspiration.

The work I describe below is a set of 5 sculptures created over 4 years. The latest work is the Flying Lizard and Seadog. I have not presented this collection to any other online magazine/blog although some of the earlier works can be found on the internet. If you do not wish to use the images please let me know so that I can present them to another publication. I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide an alternative suggestion.

I am a South African designer and artist with a PhD in Electrical Engineering. These diverse interests enable me to create 3D printed sculptures that are technically complex and artistically competent. The Horse Marionette, the Rocking Springbuck and the Birdman are joined by my latest sculptures the Flying Lizard and the Seadog.

Design Method

I create my sculptures by first visualizing the object. This is then translated onto paper, and after a series of sketches transformed into a technical drawing. This drawing dictates the measurements and dimensions needed to translate the artwork into the computer. Many of my designs include movable parts. The scale of the sculptures, gap between parts and mechanical functionality has to be planned meticulously before transfer to the computer. An additional complication is that the hinges and movable parts have to be visually pleasing and not just functional.

The design process is time consuming and relatively expensive. As a result I have to design these sculptures to be as small as possible always pushing the limits.  There is no room for error; one small mistake in the mechanics could result in the entire design not operating as intended. The design is a big challenge, it is difficult to imagine how all the parts would move and interact with one another without having a physical model to inspect.

When a design is completed, it is emailed to a local or international additive manufacturer. The sculptures are built up by fusing thin layers of nylon powder. When the print build is finished the powder is removed and the object magically emerges from the heap of deposited powder. A few days later the completed sculptures arrive at my door ready to be unpacked. This is always a very tense moment. Did I think of everything? Will the result be as planned? All the planning and designing centers on this one moment of pure joy when I hold an object that looks and functions exactly as I envisioned it.


The Birdman.

The Birdman sculpture was inspired by automata and mechanical toys. When the rod is pulled upwards the beak closes. When the rod is pushed down his beak opens and the arms move outward.

The Rocking Springbuck.

The Rocking Springbuck is dedicated to a springbuck I hand reared and also a commentary on wild animals in captivity. When the Rocking Springbuck is pushed the rocking action sets a pendulum in motion that rotates the gears mounted in the Springbuck’s body. The buck’s head is placed on a spring that allows the head to move as the buck rocks.

The Horse Marionette

The Horse marionette was a personal project, homage to my earlier years of puppet making. The challenge was to create something that was not only beautiful but pushed the technological boundaries and challenged my 3D skills.

The Flying Lizard

The Flying Lizard was inspired by imagery depicting creatures of the deep sea and old fashioned toys. The Flying Lizard flaps its wings as it propels itself through an imaginary underwater world. The Lizard utilizes gravity to enable the flapping motion.

The Seadog

The Seadog is an underwater fantasy sea creature that combines sculptural and mechanical elements. The dog is a double headed creature with an intricate movable linked body.

Artists Background


I completed my schooling at Pro Arte, the School for Music Art Drama and Ballet in Pretoria, South Africa. After some years spent as a freelance and performance artist I commenced my studies in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town. In 2004 I obtained a PhD in Electrical Engineering. My computer vision thesis focused on human pose and action recognition using negative space analysis.This was followed by a year as researcher at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and a Postdoctoral fellowship in medical custom implant design using CAD and additive manufacturing at the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein. During this time I fell in love with the possibilities of 3D printing and the unique potential of this manufacturing process to merge my artistic and technical interests. I started my company, NOMILI (www.nomili.co.za) in 2008, to exclusively dedicate my time to design for 3D printing.


November: R20th gallery Objects exhibition New York
October: London 3D Printshow Gallery
September: Invited Speaker and exhibitor at iCAT 2012 Slovenia, International conference on Additive Technologies.
September: Exhibiting with Southern Guild at Mint for the London Design Festival.
August: Southern Guild 2012 exhibition at the Everard Read gallery in Johannesburg.
March: Winner of the Absolut VISI Designer of the year 2012 in the emerging designer category.
March: Recollect group exhibition, a Southern Guild retrospective exhibition showcasing the best of the last three years of Southern Guild design pieces.


November: Invited Speaker and RAPDASA 2011
September: Invited Speaker and Exhibitor at Afrimold 2011
September: The Horse Marionette, Rocking Springbuck and Birdman selected for the Southern Guild 2011 Collection.
July: 5 Jewellery designs included in the .MGX by Materialise Summer 2011 Collection.
May: One of 17 international artists selected to exhibit at the RAPID 2011 conference Contemporary Art Gallery in Minneapolis, USA.
May: ‘The Mute Opera 1’ an exhibition with Paul Boulitreau, Grande Provence Art Gallery, Franschhoek.


November: Invited speaker on art and design using additive manufacturing at RAPDASA 2010 (the Rapid Product Development Association of South Africa)
October: L’Origine du Monde- This is not a porn song Group exhibition at the Aardklop national Art Festival in Potchefstroom.
September: One of 5 designers commissioned to take part in the Grolsch Swingtop Chandelier competition.
April: the KRIZANT.MGX design included in the .MGX by Materialise principal collection launched in Milan at the Salon del Mobile.
April: Michaella Janse van Vuuren and Lucas Thobejane selected as joint festival artists of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival.
March: Collateral group exhibition at the FRIED Contemporary Art Gallery, a collaboration with Gordon Froud.
March: One of 5 designers commissioned to present a prototype for the Budweiser man of the Match Trophy.
February: Exhibit at the Design Indaba 2010 expo as NOMILI.


December: Group Exhibition at ARTSPACE warehouse.
September: Diptych art Exhibition at the Association of Arts in Pretoria.
March: The Chrysanthemum centrepiece voted as Design Indaba 2009 Most Beautiful Object in South Africa.
February: Exhibit at the Design Indaba 2009 expo as NOMILI.


June: KYK gallery’s Artificial Light group exhibition, Pretoria.
Open Lab II exhibition at the Design Quarter, Johannesburg.


November: Group exhibition of Pretoria Jewellers at the South African Association of Art
Final selection in the VISI Haute Lumiére Lighting competition.
Postdoctoral fellow at the Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein.


Postdoctoral fellow at the Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein.


Researcher at the Meraka Institute, CSIR.


Completion of PhD in Electrical Engineering; Human Pose and Action recognition using Negative Space Analysis.


Consultant on the construction of a video database for De Beers.
Awarded Scarce Skills Scholarship (NRF), National Research Fund Bursary and De Beers Bursary for research in computer vision.


An investigation into the relationship between art and image processing toward the development of computer vision systems.
Construction of a gesture database comprising 7 actors from six different camera angles.
Awarded (NRF) National Research Fund Bursary and de Beers Bursary for research in computer vision.


The development of an interactive world: An animated character automatically mirrors the actions of an actor in a bluescreen studio.
Upgrade Masters to a PhD.
The construction a bluescreen studio at UCT for research purposes.
Awarded (NRF) National Research Fund Bursary and De Beers Bursary for research in computer vision.


Commence Masters studies in Electrical Engineering.
The development of a vision system for the automatic detection and tracking of eyes in video sequences.
Awarded (NRF) National Research Fund Bursary and De Beers Bursary for research in computer vision.


BSc Electrical Engineering.


Completed 1st Year Computer Science UNISA.


Hirt and Carter DTP Course. Photoshop, Quark Express and Adobe Freehand.
Freelance Artist, Live Performance Artist, and Mural Artist.


Michaelis Art School, uncompleted.
1986-1990 ProArte High School for Art Music Ballet and Drama.
Two Distinctions for Art in Matric. Specialized in Painting, Sculpture, Puppetry, Body Sculpture and Video Art.
Santam Art Bursary awarded to the top ten matriculants in art of that year.