The project was curated by Parts&Labour on a building designed by Paragon Architects. Counterspace assisted me with graphic conceptualization. The brief from the developer of the building was to create an artwork which would encourage people to use the stair frequently, so that the may be ‘scooped’ from the level of the street and engage with the piazza. Further to this, the request from the client was to create an artwork which would introduce colour to an environment which was largely composed of grey tones. A reference to the tradition of ‘Ndebele’ pattern making was also encouraged. In response to this, I considered the idea to create an artwork which would refer to the architecture of the precinct in which the staircase exists. As such, he looked at the overall form of the building so as to derive a motif which could generate a pattern composed of ‘arrow-like’ shapes. These shapes, whilst referring to the form of the building, would also act as arrows, directional devices encouraging movement up and down the stair. A palette of primary colours on a bed of ‘white canvas’ tiles was selected, so as to meet with the requirement of the introduction of vibrant hues.
Spatially, the artwork takes an interesting position with regard to the notion of context. Rather than an imposed object in the space, the artwork is the space itself. From across the road, when viewed in pure elevation, the artwork presents itself as a rather flat image. The graphic is experienced exactly as it was designed in 2 dimensions. As one approaches, the artwork starts to loosen and humanize itself in a way, as the canvas seems to tilt with the changing field of view. As one reaches the piazza level, the pattern continues upon the sweeping curved steps, disaggregating as the stairs pull away from each other. From above, the main section of the stair is experienced quite differently. The view of the risers is interrupted by the treads, and the pattern is fragmented. This change in experience from pure 2-dimensional image to fragmented pattern is a carefully considered narrative, engaging the spatial dynamics of the context, so as to create an artwork which participates with its context. In essence, a motif derived from the form of the building creates a series of ‘stepping stones’ which elevate one to the heart of the precinct, the urban piazza.
Concept diagram showing building form as motif generator
Street elevation. Photograph : Dharmaratna Saraswati
Foot of stairs. Photograph : Dharmaratna Saraswati.
View from piazza. Photograph : Dharmaratna Saraswati.
Stair culminates in piazza with tiles sweeping on curved stair
Rahima Moosa Mural
The mural was designed in collaboration with 26’10 Architects, a building which they designed at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital. The view from the building for which the ceramic mural is designed looks upon a landscape which is very representative of the essence of Johannesburg. The view shows a landscape of strata - the almost subterranean layer, the mine dump layer, the layer of buildings, the layer of the natural ridge, the layer of the electrical wire infrastructure, and the layer of the sky. The mural seeks to depict these layers, and see the buildings as similar to minerals floating within and outside of these layers. In essence, a depiction of the landscape which is viewed from the facade of the building, is represented by a mural made of ceramic tiles, which in turn adorns the facade of the building.
View from terrace of building
View interpreted as drawing overlayed on building facade
The Westbury Park was designed by IYER Urban Design Studio in association with Local Studio Architecture and Urban Design. The brief for this mural encouraged the inclusion of the community of Westbury in the process of the creation of the mural. As such, I decided to engage members of the Westbury Youth Centre in the design process leading up to the implementation of the mural, in which they also played a significant part. I understood that the idea of physical and historical boundaries in the context of Westbury was important. The design strategy was to harness the site analysis skills of the members of the Westbury Youth Centre. In a guided process, the members ventured into the suburb of Westbury with cameras and the brief to document their understanding of and insight into the idea of ‘boundary’ with respect to Westbury past and present. The physical boundaries between Westbury and Sophiatown, Westbury and Newclare and Westbury and Coronationville were all included in the documentation. I then took the photographic information and used it to generate a collaged geometric which would pay homage to both the composition and narrative of the photographs taken by the Westbury Youth Centre members. Seeing the park as a physical microcosm of Westbury, the collaged geometries were painted onto the walls which refer spatially to the actual boundaries which the collage depicts. In this way, an image derived from contextual analysis refers in turn to context.
Photograph by Westbury youth centre member
Photographs by youth centre members become overlayed onto walls
Elevations of murals
Main focus mural
Main focus mural
Edge of main focus mural is a ramp
Edge of main focus mural is a ramp
Edge of main focus mural is a ramp
Boundary wall mural as edge to community
Boundary wall mural as edge to community
Mural at street edge and amphitheatre
The artwork, entitled ‘Landmark’, takes the form of a cast concrete relief sculpture which represents selected iconic urban elements in the context of Tshwane City, and in particular the immediate surrounds of Loftus Park. Those urban elements are namely the suburb of Clydesdale, various distinguished schools of the area, and the Loftus Versveld stadium. The various concrete blocks vary in scale, form and position relative to the particular scale form and position of the urban elements which they represent. Importantly, it is the spatial relationship between the blocks which highlights the historical importance of the urban elements as being a significant grouping or system in the history and contemporary existence of Tshwane. By extracting these elements from the overall urban map of the city, their importance as well as the prominence of Loftus Park as a site is celebrated. Close collaboration was made with project managers Parts&Labour and manufacturers Wolkberg Casting Studios.
Overall view 1. Photo : Markus Jordaan
Overall view 3. Photo : Markus Jordaan
Seat detail. Photo : Markus Jordaan
Overall view 2. Photo : Markus Jordaan
Detail. Seats. Photo : Markus Jordaan
Seats. Photo : Markus Jordaan
The project saw the projection of 2 artworks on a digital screen of the ABSA building in the CBD of Johannesburg. Curated by Parts&Labour, it was a project for MABONENG ART WEEK 2014. The artworks are entitled Diagonal and Stair to Imagined City. Diagonal is an illustration from a series entitled Urban Moments commissioned by Architecture and Urbanism practice, UrbanWorks. The illustration represents an iconic view of Diagonal Street, looking northwards to the old Johannesburg Stock Exchange building, affectionately referred to as the ‘Diamond’ building. It captures an ‘urban moment’ in the context of the city – alluding to Diagonal Street as one of the 3 important lines in the urban landscape which formed what was known as the ‘Uitvalgrond’. Translated to ‘leftover land’ the space was delineated by the 3 farms of Braamfontein, Doornfontein and Turffontein.
Comparatively, the other illustration, Stair to Imagined City is inspired by the subterranean architecture of the Cradle of Humankind, just north of the Johannesburg. The Cradle of Humankind is widely regarded as one of the worlds most significant sites of paleontological discovery. The drawing was created in the ‘Wonder cave’ and traces the passage up a natural stairway, culminating in a rock formation resembling a sculptural ‘Madonna.’ The illustration was created during a drawing workshop entitled Drawing on Origins, hosted by the NIROX Foundation and the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIFA), and was curated by architects Elena Rocchi and Dieter Brandt. The workshop investigated the relationship between the disciplines of paleontology and architecture. The workshop featured a trip into the field by renowned paleontologist Professor Lee Berger, to the site of his recent discovery of Australopithecus sediba.
View from Fox Street 1
View from Fox Street 2
View from End Street
LN View 4 Film 1
Streetopia Legacy mural
The project was a community initiative aimed to uplift and improve the existing building of the CAPE TOWN DISTRICT ASSOCIATION FOR THE HEARING IMPAIRED. Spearheaded by the Afrika Burn collective, the project was project managed by Karen Stewart (The Ah HA Company), as part of the Streetopia Legacy Street Festival. The benefactors of the project were Afrika Burn and OBSID. Their funding contribution was the foundation for the support of the project.
The upliftment of the building was seen as a way to improve the overall environment of Observatory, and to include various community members in the process.
Architect and artist Lorenzo Nassimbeni was enlisted to design and implement the mural. A decision was made with Karen Stewart to work with the Mary Kihn School For The Deaf in Observatory and to conduct an art workshop with the students of the school. As such, the community of Observatory was engaged. The staff of the Mary Kihn School were closely involved in the process of the workshop. Much was learned and gained by all participants. The workshop produced fantastic artworks and experiences, and was seen as the most important part of the project, with the actual mural being a representative physical manifestation of it. The mural is a marker for this wonderful workshop experience.
Lorenzo Nassimbeni in collaboration with project facilitator Thandile Giyama worked with students of the Mary Kihn School For The Deaf in the workshop process. The workshop was designed to generate artwork material which would form the basis of the mural design. Students were taken into the Observatory neighbourhood to draw typical buildings. These drawings were translated into shapes, which Nassimbeni in turn translated into the mural design. As such, the students took ownership of the mural, which they essentially had directly worked on. The students were brought in to visit the process of painting the mural, so that they could see the result of their participation.
Further to this, members of the CTDAHI were included in the process through a presnetation of the process of the project. Hosted by Karen Stewart, CTDAHI members and Afrika Burn representatives saw a presentation by Thandile Giyama.
Motebang of KIEF COLLECTIVE was involved in the implementation process, as he had worked in the context of Observatory as an artist before.
Thandile Giyama, Simon Chinoda and Motebang Masitha worked with Lorenzo Nassimbeni in the implementation of the mural.
Artist Ralph Borland, who has created public artworks in Observatory before, was enlisted to create 2 illuminated artworks which would for a related part of the mural. He worked collaboratively with Lorenzo Nassimbeni.
Afrika Burn Streetopia Legacy and CTDAHI (Cape Town District Association for the Hearing Impaired)
Project Manager :
Karen Stewart (The Ah HA Company )
Lorenzo Nassimbeni (mural) and Ralph Borland (illuminated artworks)
OBSID (Observatory Improvement District) and Mary Kihn School
Urban image : The overall view of the mural - a collection of shapes derived of the architecture of the urban environment.
Observation : Students were taken on an excursion into the urban environment so as to draw the typical buildings of the surroundings of their school.
Workshop : Students working independently to create singular artworks referring to the buildings of Observatory, based on their freehand drawings.
Architectural composition : One of the artworks of the students - singular building.
Shape collection : The mural incorporated an illuminated artwork by artist Ralph Borland. The colours were carefully matched, and the position selected so as to integrate the illuminated artwork.
Workshop : Working together to create a city from the shapes.
Urban route : The 'city' drawing reflects the experience which the students had of the neighbourhood, when drawing the buildings.
Process : The artworks of the students were interpreted by Lorenzo Nassimbeni to form a the composition of the mural.
Together : A team of skilled painters was assembled to work closely with Lorenzo Nassimbeni in the installation of the mural.
Shaped facade : The front facade of the building shows the mural responding to the 'city' drawing made by the students.
Natural link :The main facade of the mural relates to the geometry of the mountain in the background.
Nocturne : At night, the beauty of the illuminated artwork by Ralph Borland comes to the fore.
Upward : From various angles, the abstraction used in the design of the mural is highlighted.