Big boy Benjamin gives Yolandi best birthday surprise

The ancient art of bone carving is shaping the life of Yolandi Diesel.

The talented young woman came joint second in the Innibos National Craft Awards 2020 with her spectacular entry titled ‘Benjamin’, a carved Afrikaner cattle skull that took around three months to complete.

The announcement of the winners of the competition was made on 26 June – which is Yolandi’s birthday so she had double the reason to celebrate!

Yolandi moved to Mpumalanga’s Lowveld around two years ago, settling first in White River before relocating to the scenic and rural Uitkyk area of Nelspruit, which lends itself to her creative processes.

In her ‘previous life’, Yolandi studied human resources and labour law and worked in the construction industry for a good few years before joining her husband’s business. Eventually, she had to abandon formal employment, however, because – as she says – ‘the hobby of carving skulls completely took over’.

Much of her time is now spent hand carving and engraving animal skulls and horns.  “I pride myself on being a bone artist,” she says, adding that she is passionate about working in this medium.

“My craft represents honouring the animal after it is dead, seeing the beauty in its remains and maintaining respect for the life that has been… and giving it ‘new life’. It’s also a reminder that we only live once,” she explains.

Yolandi describes herself as a storyteller. “My canvas just happens to be bone.”

Her work retails under the name Calvary Skulls.

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