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Large mural sheds light on CBD

Large mural sheds light on CBD

23 July 2019

A massive mural has been unveiled in the Cape Town Central City, enhancing the CBD’s urban environment and uniqueness.

On 1 July, Boxwood Property Fund, an independently owned, boutique asset manager with a focus on the redevelopment of commercial buildings and a passion for the City of Cape Town, revealed the mural, kicking off in style the redevelopment of Cape Town’s last remaining city block to be refurbished. Measuring a massive six metres by ten storeys high, a surrealistic lighthouse now fronts the vertical space on the corner of Strand and Loop streets in the Central City, symbolically linking the city to the sea and its maritime heritage.

The city’s biggest street art to date, the large-scale mural was painted by three artists and is a collaboration between Ukraine and South Africa. The artists involved are Ukranian street artist Aleksandr Nikitiuk, Ukranian and South African artist Tatiana Hurn, and South African artist Stephen Ajobiah.

Boxwood Property Fund owns the entire city block which fronts Bree, Loop, Castle and Strand Streets − comprising three separate buildings − which it acquired late last year for R220 million. This is the last remaining block that can be redeveloped in the CBD, and the company plans to invest a further R800 million to rejuvenate the existing buildings and create premium-grade retail and offices with associated parking. The fabric of the buildings will be retained while an emphasis will be placed on creating an interesting streetscape, incorporating exciting architecture.

BRINGING THE MURAL TO LIFE

CEO of Boxwood Property Fund and chairperson of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), Rob Kane explains: “We are very keen to liven up the streetscape as it creates an interesting environment and Cape Town is now ready to up its game. If one looks at cities like Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin, the street art and murals are such an integral part of what makes those cities so vibrant.

“We wanted to use this prominent site as the ‘canvas’ for an exciting street art project and we teamed up with local NGO Baz-Art to help us find a suitable artist for a project of this scale. We were also fortunate enough to have had the support of a local construction company, R+N Master Builders who provided the scaffolding work at cost. We are also very grateful to the City of Cape Town for giving us approval for the artwork. Everyone involved has seen the value-add of the mural.”

In addition to creating a more interesting streetscape, the project has employed local artists, contractors, scaffold crews and the like. It has also exposed Cape Town to the creativity of Ukraine, resulting in a dynamic collaboration.

On bringing the mural to life as well as its significance, Rob notes: “The wall presented the artists with quite a challenge as a six-metre-wide ten storey wall is a tricky space to fill. Given that Cape Town is at the bottom of Africa, the artists came up with a lighthouse. And the lighthouse is supported by a hand which gives it a softer touch.”

He jokingly adds that “there is a lot of detail on the lighthouse that a property developer should probably not try and explain. However, it has been a great learning curve for us. No one would ever accuse me of being creative so it is stunning to see others bring these buildings to life.”

THE LIGHT OF THE LIGHTHOUSE

In a thank you note on her Facebook page, artist Tatiana explains the significance of the mural and reiterates that it was a collaborative effort. While there are concepts, symbolism and personal feelings behind every artwork, she says an original piece of art speaks to everyone in their own language. People from all walks of life can, therefore, receive their own message from the light of the lighthouse as it “shines for everyone”.

She adds: “First of all I was grateful to meet Rob, whose excitement I could feel from the first sight. Apparently, he had been looking for mural artists for three years. With an open heart, I have given away a piece of me to the Mother City, to my beloved South Africa, where I have lived for six years already. There were so many things I wanted to share with this beautiful country. It was brewing in me for a long time. And finally, the significant moment for me as an artist has arrived at the perfect time with the perfect team and partners.

“Through facing many challenges, through conquering many fears, through moving into the unknown, I constantly felt the power of nature’s support. The weather was great, the timing was just perfect. The signs I followed were incredibly meaningful, which gave me the right amount of energy to accomplish the dream.”

MORE STREET ART ON THE CARDS FOR THE CENTRAL CITY

Streetscaping helps to improve the quality of the urban environment and acts as a vehicle for involving the community in environmental improvements as well as celebrating a place and its historical heritage. The good news is more streetscaping is on the cards in the Cape Town Central City. “We have another mural planned also in the city centre, with more to come,” says Rob.

Last year Rob called on the public to come forward with ideas for Boxwood’s own buildings and also put out a challenge to other property owners in the Central City to commission street art. “The response has been great,” he confirms. “We had an interior design competition for one of the buildings with students from the Design Time Interior Design School. The quality and presentations were as good as we have seen in the industry. We have also been approached by a range of creative people. Some of the ideas are pretty wacky and we will be implementing them as we redevelop the buildings,” he concludes.

IMAGES: Images by Scott Arendse, CCID Online Coordinator

Tags: streetscaping CCID Boxwood Property Fund mural in the CBD Rob Kane Tatiana Hurn