‘Dancing’ sculpture will light up city precinct in spirit of celebration
PUBLIC art is going global in Nelson Mandela Bay where Baywest Mall has commissioned a sculpture of a giant sphere bearing intricately designed dancers.
The new sculpture – which will be positioned in a traffic circle at the end of Walker Drive in Sherwood, near to Baywest Mall and the new off-ramp to the N2 freeway – follows a Baywest competition to design a new artwork.
Two of the Eastern Cape’s most celebrated artists, Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta and Louwrens Westraad, claimed the top honours in Baywest’s search for “a sculpture which celebrates Nelson Mandela Bay and its residents” after they submitted their ujiva (Xhosa for dancing) concept.
Work on the sculpture, which includes planning and the actual construction, will begin early next year.
When completed, the massive public sculpture, at 7m tall and 7.5m wide, is expected to be one of the tallest in the Bay region.
The design was selected from a shortlist of 18 submissions from throughout the region, netting the artistic duo R50 000 in prize money.
The new sculpture was selected for its ability to meet the brief – which was for a work which “speaks to the spirit of the Baywest City development, namely a passion for fun; a hub of excitement; and festive celebrations”.
The artists said in their statement of intent, which accompanied their submission: “Dance in Africa is considered to be an important method of communication. This art form is practiced in various styles throughout our vast continent.
“The artwork in part also represents the resilient energy of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, who symbolically light up our ‘Friendly City’.”
It will be constructed from steel, featuring multicoloured, solar-powered LED lights.
Westraad said: “This is an apolitical sculpture for the city. The dancers do not belong to any specific race or creed; they are universal and represent fluidity, endurance and strength.”
Sapeta said the design “allows for a lot of interactivity using dance”.
“When you’re dancing, you’re free. The spherical nature of the sculpture relates to Africa with its rondavels and traditional meetings with people sitting in a circle.”
Sapeta, who also has one of his works (of a bird) positioned in the Donkin Reserve near the city centre, said he was very excited that their design had been selected.
“It is quite an intricate sculpture. There may certainly be tweaks to the design as it is still very much a work in progress. We will be working with the engineers during the construction phase,” he said.
Sapeta said once all the planning had been done, it should take about three months to complete the work.
Competition coordinator Cedric Vanderlinden, owner of Park Drive’s Underculture Contemporary art gallery, said the calibre of entries meant the judging panel had a hard time choosing a winner.
“The good news for the other great submissions is that Baywest is interested in commissioning those artists for public art which will be dotted throughout the Baywest City precinct,” Vanderlinden said.
Baywest City managing director Gavin Blows said the submissions had shown the immense talent embedded in the region.
“Our aim is to celebrate and profile all that this wonderful region has to offer,” he said.
“Urban art has the wonderful ability to provide soul to an area, and this piece will be followed by more over time.”