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PPublic art in South Africa dares people to stop and notice their environment. It breaches boundaries, shifts thinking and encourages debate, while celebrating the cultural diversity that underpins South Africa's identity. South Africa’s public art includes murals, sculptures, mosaics, billboards and performance art.
Public art projects in South Africa accommodate new artistic forms, enhance the environment and articulate a mix of traditional and modern ideas. These projects employ a range of forms, including sculptures, billboards, mosaics, murals and performance art.
Often, art in public spaces marks the spot where historically significant events have taken place. Such art often pays tribute to South African icons or raises awareness about social issues.
There are numerous ongoing public art projects in a number of cities, involving the creation of both permanent installations and temporary exhibitions.
In Johannesburg, the greatest density of public art is found in the Newtown Cultural Precinct. The 560 carved wooden heads dotted on plinths throughout the area are intended to reflect African diversity, while the Banner of Hope, a steel sculpture of the South African flag in front of the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, celebrates our freedom.
In addition, Clive Van Den Berg's Eland in Braamfontein, William Kentridge and Gerhard Marx’s Fire Walker near Park Station and the Vilikazi Street sculptures in Soweto are fast becoming national cultural landmarks.
In Cape Town, there are public artworks at all the Integrated Rapid Transit System (IRTS) stations. At the foreshore end of the city's business district there are a number of sculpted figures depicting street life in Cape Town, with another public art project on Church Square, commemorating the Cape's history of slavery.
In Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay), Route 67 involves the creation of 67 public art works, symbolising Nelson Mandela's years of work dedicated to the freedom of South Africa.
All these projects are complemented by temporary exhibitions, funded by the public or private sector, that make art accessible to all. They bring life back into public spaces, bring prestige to neighbourhoods and stimulate cultural tourism.