A striking bollard art project by the Cape Town Central City Improvement District in the heart of the Mother City’s CBD celebrates iconic Cape Town landmarks.
They’re no longer just sturdy and functional. No sirree. Bollards in the Cape Town CBD are getting a new lease on life. They have become vibrant canvases depicting local attractions and heritage sites such as District Six, Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Bo-Kaap, The Castle, Boulders Beach, and Cape Point.
Recognising the power of graffiti and street art as a form of expression, CCID Urban Management enlisted four independent artists from HandCantrol 360 Crew to paint 19 bollards in St Georges Mall to rejuvenate the urban landscape. Each structure has a unique landmark that is connected to Cape Town.
Called “A Fusion of Iconic Cape Town Locations and African Unity Project”, the initiative kicked off in January 2024 after the structures were stripped of paint and repainted with 3-in-1 paint with anti-corrosion properties.
While not all bollards have been painted, the completed artworks are already turning heads with passersby stopping to admire the work and figure out if they can identify some of the locations on display.
EMPOWERING LOCAL ARTISTS
CCID Urban Management manager Kally Benito says the project not only empowers local artists but provides a platform to weave stories about the Mother City and celebrate one of the best cities in the world.
Says Benito: “Cape Town has a rich history and culture, as well as iconic landmarks like Table Mountain and the Company's Garden. Every corner of the city tells a unique story and bollard art is a form of public art that can bring these stories to life, reflecting the culture and soul of the city while promoting African unity through design.
“Our choice highlights the richness of African heritage, and a celebration of the city’s history and serves as a visual reminder of a collaborative effort that brings communities together.”
AFRICAN UNITY THROUGH DESIGN
Graffiti artist Jason Redman, better known as Dfeat Once, is one of the commissioned artists from HandCantrol 360 Crew. The 40-year-old from Woodstock, Cape Town, has been doing graffiti since he was 16 years old and is inspired by the diversity of people in Cape Town.
Dfeat Once is a dab hand and has done multiple artworks in Cape Town such as the street art in Lower Long Street, completed for the 2023 Netball World Cup. His crew members are equally experienced and comprise internationally acclaimed graffiti artist Maxwell Southgate, popularly known as Mak1one, who was recently tasked with revamping the mural on CBD establishment Charly's Bakery, an artwork he painted 14 years ago.
Redman is not fazed by the elements, including an unusual surface and Cape Town’s sometimes erratic weather. He says the project is an exciting challenge. He explains: “It is the first time that we are working with poles and on such a small surface that is also round. The process is intricate, and it takes time to get the flow as you have to make sure the drawing makes sense from all sides when people look at it. We are using mixed media which we know works on these surfaces such as oil-based paint markers. Once the artworks are completed, we will cover the bollards with paint to ensure the work is protected and has a long lifespan.”
The bollard art initiative follows on the heels of CCID Urban Management’s highly successful Christmas-themed tree-wrapping project in which approximately 500 trees in the Cape Town CBD were draped with colourful fabric and tinsel to transform the cityscape. In addition, 120 annual Christmas-themed baskets in St Georges Mall were installed during the festive season. They will be removed in due course and replaced with floral-themed baskets as part of the department’s ongoing efforts to beautify the CBD and add a splash of colour.
Going forward, the department will look at extending the bollard art initiative to other parts of the mall as well as other spaces in the CBD.