AfrikaBurn 2023: 24 to 30 April

The Streetopia Legacy Art Project

In 2015, our team and community embarked on a new collaborative event that partnered with the community and civic bodies in Observatory, Cape Town, to create a free one-day festival of creativity that sought to bring art and interactive experiences alive in public spaces. That event is Streetopia – and it’s gone from strength to strength each year, with the 2018 event being the most diverse and well-attended so far.

This year’s Streetopia event is set for Saturday November 30th 2019 will once again see the streets of Obs closed off and a wide range of community members and AfrikaBurn artists invited to flood public places with exhibitions and impromptu street performances. Also coming up this year will be the first Streetopia Jozi (stay tuned for more info about that, coming soon)!
One aim of the Streetopia event is to create a legacy in the area of the event that improves the urban space and leaves a positive legacy. Over the past 3 years, this has seen street art and mural projects being installed on the streets and walls of Obs – and among these have been:

– OBZ mural on Trill Road by Marti Lund, Skubalisto and Mr Migo (2015)

– Art lights by Star Craft and Ralph Borland on the wall of Cafe Ganesh and on Stanley House (2016 & 2017)

– ‘Wakmkelekile’ by Junkanew (Monique Fagan and Yandiswa Mazwana) which was installed along the Station Road thoroughfare (2018)

– ‘Afrika Digitata’ by Jon Wreal & crew (2018)

– ‘Hey! Sexy!’ anti-cat-calling initiative by Thakira Allie

– ‘Aweh!’ mural by Marti Lund & Mr Migo on Stanley House off Lower Main Road (2018)

– hand-illustrated murals on the pillars along Lower Main Road by Clinton Osbourne and The KIF Collective (2018)
Many thanks to the National Lotteries Commission for their support as the funder of these Streetopia Legacy Artworks over the 2018 and 2019 periods!
2019: Legacy Mural Installed in Obs
The latest aspect of the Streetopia Legacy initiatives that have become visible in the suburb is a mural project that has seen the whole of the building that houses the Cape Town & District Association For The Hearing Impaired repainted with a fresh mural that references and interprets the architectural environment of Observatory.

The project saw artist and architect Lorenzo Nassimbeni and students from the Mary Kihn School in Observatory collaborating over a period of months to initially analyse and record the various architectural styles that are typical of the Obs area.

With sketches and line drawing illustrations recorded – some of which were architecturally precise and others expressive and explorative – these were then workshopped into shape drawings.

The shape drawings were then collated and started to form the base material of the mural, by collecting the shape drawings into a cityscape. 

Through a careful design method, honouring the artistic process of the school students, the work produced in the workshop was translated into an artwork for the mural. The Herschel Street facade talks about the ‘drawing of the individual house’ process, whilst the Station Rd facade talks about the ‘city drawing.’

The idea is that the artistic process of the students is evident in the final product, so that they may take ownership of the mural as artists. Aldo van Eyck’s famous principle of, ‘A house is a city, and a city is a house’ comes to life at full scale.

The mural traverses both facades (seen above as one drawing). The Herschel Street facade has a geometry very close to one of the drawings of the students, and the Station Road facade respects the geometry of the ‘city’ built by the students, as well as the existing pattern on the building itself.

As part of the final design two illuminated art lights, by Ralph Borland and Star Craft, were included on the facade of the building, one placed on each wall. These are activated by a light metre to be switched on at dusk and off again at dawn.

Final artwork, as photographed in May 2019. This work was the result of superb execution by the artists Lorenzo Nassimbeni, Thandile Giyama, Simon Chinoda and Motebang Masitha who, through collaboration with the Mary Kihn School For Partially Hearing Children and the Cape Town and District Association for The Hearing Impaired and OBSID, implemented the final design and lighting installation.
The mural project was completed in May of 2019, and will go on to provide an interesting and artistic legacy that benefits both the Cape Town & District Association For The Hearing Impaired and also the surrounding suburb of Observatory for years to come.
As a visible representation of the legacy that our Streetopia event leaves behind, the various artworks created by the AfrikaBurn and Observatory communities uplift the  landscape by renovating or decorating shared urban spaces, whilst providing an opportunity for civic bodies, artists and local communities to collaborate in new and creative ways. The Streetopia Legacy Project will continue to roll out in 2019 – so keep an eye out for updates.
Many thanks to the funders of this project, the National Lotteries Commission and OBSID, and also to all involved in the creation, co-ordination and implementation of the project:
Project Manager: Karen Stewart
Members of AfrikaBurn’s Art Committee:
Egi Xhellolari
Lorraine Tanner
Monique Schiess
Paul Grose
Robert Weinek

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