Selected works by Dillon Marsh

Dillon Marsh
Assimilation 1



184 x 232 cm

Sharp photographs of bizarre constructions in the Kalahari Desert present us with a number of questions surrounding their identity. The uncanny objects evoke grotesque ballerinas, animal heads, parasols or dismembered bodies, turning the empty wilderness into a science fiction set. What are these sculptural shapes growing off telephone poles? Where is their mysterious creator whose massive and invisible hands produce these wonders, all strikingly unique?

Dillon Marsh
Assimilation 3



184 x 232cm

Under the generic title of Landmarks, Dillon Marsh presents elegant photographs that address particular features of the landscape produced either by natural forces or socio economic factors. In the series of birds nests entitled Assimilation the focus is on the transformations of the landscape due to animal intervention. In other series, wind or watercourses are the architects of spectacular land alterations.

Dillon Marsh
Assimilation 7



184 x 232 cm

Conversely, in the body of work Diamonds Aren’t Forever Marsh portrays abandoned farmhouses and decrepit mining towns of the Diamond Coast of South Africa and Namibia, capturing human made changes. In these images the impact on the life of communities is conveyed by focusing on abandoned buildings and scrapped cars, excluding all human trace. Following on the longstanding tradition of landscape photography the artist represents human beings symbolically through natural space or architecture, hence delivering a subtle narrative constructed from absence.

Text © Gabriela Salgado



Photographer Dillon Marsh has been fascinated by the gigantic nests of Sociable Weaver birds since childhood.

In the world of bird’s nests we guess you'd call the huge structures created by the Sociable Weaver bird the equivalent of the Palace of Versailles or maybe one of those 100 million dollar Rafael Viñoly apartments up for sale in New York right now.
They are the biggest nests in the world and can be occupied by hundreds of pairs of birds at a time. Their central chambers retain heat for night time roosting, the outer 'rooms' provide daytime shade. Large nesting colonies can be active across several generations, sometimes over a hundred years.
Taken in the southern Kalahari Desert by South African photographerDillon Marsh , Assimilation documents the Sociable Weaver bird's nests, which wrap around telephone poles and tall trees and are the only signs of life in the barren landscape between towns.


February 2013, by Rob Alderson, It’s Nice That

Starter for ten – what do these images show? If you said the nests of sociable weaver birds built around telephone poles in the southern Kalahari region, then give yourself a pat on the back (you liar!). This intriguing series Assimilation is the work of South African photographer Dillon Marsh, a huge talent whose work explores the symbiotic relationship between society and the landscapes in which it sits.
This set shows the natural world co-opting human structures for its own ends, at other times he depicts illuminated crucifixes, telegraph poles “disguised” as trees andtrees which have died but not yet fallen.
“In these series I seek to find things that are out of the ordinary, picking them out of the landscape where they might otherwise blend in,” he says. “I choose objects that can be found in multitude within their environment so that I can depict a family of objects in a series of photographs. By displaying each project as such, I feel I am able to show both the character of the individual members, and the characteristics that make these objects a family.”


Cape Town Magazine

We talk to Capetonian photographer Dillon Marsh about his artwork and travels

Dillon on conceptual photography

I meet Dillon Marsh at Royale Eatery for a cup of coffee and a good chat about his artwork. I was already familiar with his work, as his photographs were given a prominent spot at Spier Contemporary 2010, which has so far been Dillon’s greatest exposure.

Dillon’s series of twelve photographs depict cell phone towers disguised by cell phone companies as palm or pine trees in Cape Town and Surrounds, the first of which appeared in 1996. Marsh placed each tree centrally in the frame, like a scientific illustration of a botanical specimen; de-saturating the colour in the manner of a hand coloured engraving from the 19th century. The series, entitled: Invasive Species, explores the relationship between the environment and the disguised towers of Cape Town and the surrounds.

“Although the masts are disguised, they make you look twice,” says the photographer, “I like the idea behind something that is transformed into something that it’s not,”

Dillon is an artist, who hails from a family of creative’s. His sister, for example, works in the jewellery design industry. As an artist, he’s always on the lookout for projects and competitions and his love of photography is deeply influenced by travel. He’s travelled Europe and India, and from Nairobi to Cape Town using public transport. However, Dillon’s photographs tend to focus more on the people, rather than the surroundings in which they find themselves.

“I try to give each project a particular, yet different feel. I feel strongly about what I photograph and want to get more connected with the continent by posing the questions: Who are you? And where are you?” explains Dillon.

Dillon on transitions and why he’s an advocate for Photoshop

One of Dillon’s projects focuses on the sociable weaver birds in the Kalahari, who assume ownership of the telephone poles that cut across their habitat. Their burgeoning nests are inertly statuesque and teeming with life, and the twigs and grass collected to build these nests combine to give recognisable personalities to otherwise inanimate poles.

“How the nests were placed in the centre fascinated me,” remarks Dillon, “I like landscapes and their interesting elements and things that I discover in transition – not quite one thing or another.”

Boneless, another of Dillon’s projects, is a series of three photographs that challenge the rigid structure of various manmade objects. Dillon combined photography and 3D work, by taking a picture of a pylon outside of Cape Town, on his way to the West Coast. The effect is quite reminiscent of large, street art.

Dillon is a professional retouch artist, experienced in the post production of photographs. Despite the fact that he sticks to his medium format, Hasselblad film camera, as opposed to digital photography, he admits that he’s a huge fan of Photoshop.


August 6, 2013, by Julia Sabot, Feature

In the vast barren landscapes of the southern Kalahari, Sociable Weaver birds assume ownership of the telephone poles that cut across their habitat. Their burgeoning nests are at once inertly statuesque and teeming with life. The twigs and grass collected to build these nests combine to give strangely recognizable personalities to the otherwise inanimate poles.—Dillon Marsh
The Sociable Weaver is a small brown bird found in the Kalahari region of southern Africa. They are unlike most other birds due to their lifestyle and nest building, constructing permanent nests on trees and other tall objects. The nests are the largest built by any bird, big enough to house over a hundred pairs of birds, often containing several generations at a time. South African photographer Dillon Marsh has always been intrigued by the way humans interact with their environment. Assimilation is his second series that explores this relationship—the idea was sparked by his memory of seeing these huge nests while traveling with his family when he was a kid. The fact that they are situated on telephone poles and that people seem to be actively helping the birds by wrapping wire around the poles made this an especially interesting subject for him.