24HR emergency NUMBER: 082 415 7127 report an incident

Mesmerising mosaics set to enliven Cape Town CBD

Mesmerising mosaics set to enliven Cape Town CBD

by Simangele Mzizi
30 May 2022

An innovative street art project is set to boost tourism in the Cape Town Central City and create meaningful interactions while generating income for local artists and artisans.

Creativity abounds in downtown Cape Town. The latest art project to play itself out in the Mother City’s CBD is the Guerrilla Mosaic Bombing Project.

Introduced in early May, the project will see eight Cape Town artists collaborating with professional artisans - graduates of the Spier Arts Academy - to create 14 small mosaic works. Using hand-cut stone, glass and ceramic, the skilled artisans will transform beautiful illustrations by the artists into pixelated mosaics no bigger than 50 × 50 cm. These will then be “bombed” discretely on walls and structures around the inner city to promote walking tourism and help drive foot traffic to businesses and institutions.


Guerrilla Mosaic illustration.

BOOST TO WALKING TOURISM

Walking tourism - one of the best ways to explore a destination - allows visitors to engage more freely with locals, nature and culture and “can bring about social and economic benefits to residents and communities if properly developed and managed”, according to the World Tourism Organisation.

The aim is not only to stimulate tourism through culture and heritage exploration but to create a sense of pride and belonging. The mosaics, which will be created in such a way that is seems as if they’ve only just appeared, are bound to spark conversations and contribute to the business community’s identity. Information on them and their creators will be embedded in QR codes next to the mosaics, allowing viewers to scan the code and find information about them and the artists.

Four pieces have already been installed in the Central City at Spier Arts Trust in Commercial St (Kilmany-Jo Liversage), Nando’s on the corner of Waterkant and Long sts (Fanie Buys) and the interior and exterior of Heritage Square in Shortmarket St (Kilmany-Jo Liversage and Robyn Pretorius). More artworks are set to follow.

So how did this all come about?


Kilmany-Jo Liversage’s mosaic inside Local at Heritage Square.

STREET ART SPARKS JOY

This exciting project is supported by the Mzansi Golden Economy (MGE) grant fund from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and involves House Union Block (HUB), a platform borne out of the Spier Arts Trust which runs the Spier Arts Academy, as well as entrepreneur Victoria Engelhorn.

Engelhorn is the owner and director of the Cape Heritage Hotel, inner-city grocer Local at Heritage Square, chairperson of Zip Zap Circus and the founder of several businesses in Barcelona. The globetrotter was inspired to develop the concept after seeing similar projects in other cities throughout the world.

In a mini preview hosted at House Union Block on 10 May and attended by the media, gallerists and artists, she explained that when the pandemic struck and saw people and businesses moving out of cities, different ideas emerged.

“I was reminded that when walking the streets of Paris, you see these little mosaic images everywhere. It’s always a surprise when you suddenly encounter a Smurf or the like … just little tiny things that spark you and make you smile, and I thought why can’t we do that in Cape Town and why can’t we connect it with businesses that have been forgotten because they’re in areas that people maybe don’t walk to anymore.

“I also thought, why can’t we create a map where people go from one place to another to discover the city again and end up in coffee shops or amazing retail spaces and why can’t we combine that with art from emerging artists?”


Mosaicist Heinrich Joemath transforms an illustration into a mosaic during a mini preview event hosted at House Union Block on 10 May and attended by various guests.

UPLIFTING LOCAL ARTISTS

Like many art projects in the Cape Town Central City, including the recent the International Public Art Festival (IPAF), this initiative is more than just aesthetics. It recognises the importance of uplifting local artists and the power of public art in transforming society, creating safer neighbourhoods and fostering relationships.

That’s why the stunning and colourful mosaics also tell stories and explore a range of themes including identity, social inequality and the natural environment.

Robyn Pretorius’ mosaic, for instance, at Heritage Square is of a bird which she says is “symbolic of resilience, adaptability, diversity and uniqueness in a region much like the diverse cultures coexisting in a city”. The 34-year-old Belhar artist says it’s “humbling and validating” to have her work included in the project as growing up on the Cape Flats, she never imagined she’d be part of a project of this magnitude.

Fanie Buys’s mosaic at Nando’s depicts a still from the television show, Black Mirror. He explains: “Without summarising the episode, what struck me was how the character exudes power and that is characterised by her comfort in being a member of a leisure class. This work is a consideration of the visual language of how she navigates a very fraught world with ease because of her aplomb in dressing smart casual.”

Now that the first part of the project has been revealed, a big social media campaign will be launched soon as part of efforts to create awareness around the mosaics. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the mesmerising mosaics.

IMAGES: CCID

Other stories you might like: 
Wall art enlivens downtown Cape Town

Tags: street art Guerrilla Mosaic Bombing Project Victoria Engelhorn Cape Town CBD art project