South African Stamp Design Artwork by Marcus Neustetter

South Aficans telling Stories with Light




Facilitated by artist Marcus Neustetter, participants throughout South Africa took part in the making of performative light artworks captured through long-time exposure photography to create artwork for the stamps. These artworks imaginatively captured by Marcus, relate to the South African environment, heritage and people’s personal stories.

2015 was proclaimed the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies by the United Nations. This prompted the South African Post Office to issue stamps celebrating light in 2016. The sheet of ten international rate stamps is die-cut in a hexagon shape resembling a kaleidoscope; there are two First Day Covers.

The UN wanted to raise global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health.

Light is an indispensable part of our daily lives. It has revolutionised medicine, opened up international communication via the internet, and continues to be central to linking cultural, economic and political aspects of the global society.

The stamps

Stamp 1: With the ever-transforming city as an inspiration, the artist explored urban boundaries, unexpected beauty and endless possibilities.

Stamp 2: A community from a small Karoo town created an imaginary “Amandelboom” (Almond Tree), a tree that none of them have seen, but after which their town is named.

Stamp 3: Using mirrors and a bouncing laser light, a group of young participants worked together to draw new constellations over the Highveld.

Stamp 4: Under the rural South African sky, participants created a ‘roof’ over their communal heads.

Stamp 5: Using simple rope lights, youth danced around one another in an attempt to re-enact the birth of the Universe.

Stamp 6: Living close to a palaeontological site with pre-dinosaur spoor, this reel-dance group pay respect to the planet’s history and their ancestors through the expression of light and dance.

Stamp 7: Community members from informal settlements used fire to draw their homes.

Stamp 8: Simple laser pointers in the hands of many, painted a whirlpool of imagery on the canvas of the night sky.

Stamp 9: In a small rural town, for one night a personal discovery is made – one woman, at the centre of the universe.

Stamp 10: Experiments with water, sound vibrations and bouncing laser lights allowed participants to ‘see’ the Northern Lights in Southern Africa.

Commemorative envelopes: The images of light formed on the retina in a human eye are upside-down and your brain corrects it so you see right-side up. Playing with this fact, some of the stamps are placed upside down.


Andrew Forbes, Chief Researcher and Research Group Leader: CSIR – National Laser Centre.


First Day Covers: