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.
Street elevation. Photograph : Dharmaratna Saraswati
Foot of stairs. Photograph : Dharmaratna Saraswati.
View from piazza. Photograph : Dharmaratna Saraswati.
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.
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.
The sculpture was designed specifically for the entrance to a house which had extensive alterations done by the architect,Antonio Zaninovic Architecture Studio. The geometry of the wall-mounted sculpture was derived from the ground floor plan of the house, and can be seen as representation of the concept of the architectural design. The sculpture design responded to one of the key themes in the design for the house, namely the gradation from a very enclosed, contained space (as represented by the new stone wall of the house), to the open expanse of the garden. The facets of the sculpture mirror the organic nature of the stone wall and the planes of granite at the entrance. The sculpture has an opening central to it, allowing light to pass through to an existing window behind. The geometry of the sculpture closest to the garden space of the house reflects the stairs leading to the garden itself.
The design was based upon the notion of the importance of trade in the history of Cape Town. A drawing of Adderley street formed the basis of the design. Adderley Street was significant in being a strong link between the inner city and the harbour, and thus was of great commercial importance. The drawing became a motif which was jewel-like in it’s aesthetic, speaking to the specialness of the new chamber designed by the architects for the space. The background colour for the wallpaper is a direct reference to the corporate identity colour of the Cape Chamber of Commerce, the interior of which was designed by Jakupa Architects and Urban Designers.Very particular print files were created, so that the layout of the wallpaper would print at a scale which was specific to the space, and appropriate from an experiential point of view.
Adderley Street, Cape Town circa 1820
Adderley Street, Cape Town circa 1820, illustration
Wallpaper in situ
Wallpaper in situ
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.