Getting Concrete about National Arts Festival

The National Arts Festival has partnered with Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) to create a public artwork as a legacy project, dedicated to the community of Grahamstown. Johannes “Zach” Taljaard, a former winner of the Young Concrete Sculptor’s Award, is the artist selected to create a sculpture for St Mary’s Day Care Centre during the Festival

Taljaardt will work in a studio space in Grahamstown during the Festival, and the sculpture will be installed on site at the St Mary’s Day Care Centre on 9 July at 14:00. The Eastern Cape’s MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts & Culture, Ms Xoliswa Tom will unveil the sculpture. Taljaard will also be hosting a workshop about this award at the Festival’s Remix Laboratory programme and Mosele Maloleka, sponsorship manager of PPC will present a workshop on the Festival’s Hands On! Masks Off! programme. St. Mary’s Day Care Centre is an NGO that works mainly with vulnerable children and youth (ages 6-18 years). The communities where these children come from face severe social challenges. At St. Mary’s Day Care Centre the children are offered a secure haven where they can get ready for school in the morning, have breakfast and be sent to school. After school the children return to the Day Care Centre for another meal, and the children are helped with their homework. St Mary’s Day Care Centre’s approach is holistic in that it not just focuses on academics, but the other aspects of a child’s life as well, like their creativity and coping skills. “Essentially we want the children to dream about better life because they are entitled to have a better life. It is this very theme of children having a dream that is explored in Taljaardt’s sculpture that we find very exciting,” said Vera Adams, the Director of the Centre for Social Development in Grahamstown. Taljaard’s sculpture titled “Dreamer” may seem like a solid cement block, but on closer inspection, walking around the block, the two panels reveal themselves as visual clues. “It is a child with eyes closed either making a wish or who is dreaming. The child is universal and embodies all dreamers, past and present. He symbolizes those who could not realize their dreams and through a collective dream has paved the way for a current generation to be able to follow their dreams,” according to Taljaard. On the other side of Taljaardt’s sculpture a balloon playfully hints at the joy of dreaming, but it also warns that children need to hang onto their dreams otherwise it will float away. It draws a connection between the physical world and the ethereality of the dream world where anything is possible. St Mary’s Centre will be 29 years old this year. Its founder, the late Dr. Thelma Henderson, has been honoured with the President’s National Orders for her efforts to empower people through early childhood education to combat poverty. “Whilst the sculpture will remain at the Centre as a beacon of hope and inspiration for its staff, it will also be a tribute to Dr. Thelma Henderson, whose work continues to be an inspiring legacy for the city. PPC’s partnership with an NGO that was founded by a South African citizen who has been heralded with the National Orders further recognises the contributions that South African women make to secure a better future for our nation’s children but it also underlines the role that South African artists play in supporting NGO’s that advance social development,” said Ismail Mahomed, National Arts Festival Director. Bookings for this year’s “11 Days of Amaz!ng” are available through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, accommodation and travel options visit www.nationalartsfestival.co.za. Also join the National Arts Festival group on Facebook for all the latest competitions and news, or follow us on Twitter. The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Sunday Independent and M Net.