Ambitious art project as epic as the streetscape it occupies
GRAAFF-REINET — An ambitious public art project, driven by the Giant Flag initiative in Graaff-reinet, was realised recently in Umasizakhe’s historic Royal Block.
The Royal Block was constructed on Queen Street in the Umasizakhe township during the early 20th century and consist of unique historical buildings built with brick and cement with flat corrugated-iron roofs.
Over the span of 12 months, the Giant Flag Trust and FCB Foundation, collaborated with artist Kim Lieberman and others, local and national, to transform the dilapidated front façades of these residences into a massive work of art which is spread across 1 000 square meters.
By degrees, this industrious project - by far the most ambitious ever attempted in the area - was completed the residences had to be plastered and then given a new coat of paint before the painting of the various silhouettes - all of which represent residents of the area - could commence.
The initiators of this project regarded it as an opportunity to instil some deeply needed dignity in a part of the world where this privilege is so profoundly lacking.
Upon commencement of the project, the response from the local community was overwhelming and all involved in the project hopes that the end result will generate enough interest in the Royal Block and the surrounding community to bring change and prosperity to the community.
Artists who worked with Lieberman on the project include Thabang Lehobye, Yedidya Falkson, Yinon Falkson, as well as Daron Chatz who helped capture the early work on the film, which was crafted into a beautiful short film by Dirk Chalmers (the video can be watched on our website www. graaffreinetadvertiser.com).
The big-hearted people behind the scenes, moving funds around to help make this happen - the FCB and Giant Flag leadership - consist of Brett Morris, Jimmy Joubert, Thabang Skwambane, Hanna Makoba, Graham Vivian, Samantha Graham and Katie Andrews, with solid help on the ground from Cindy Roux as well as the quiet yet formidable Thobeka Booysen, the Giant Flag’s community liaison who is herself a resident of Umasizakhe’s Royal Block.
Thanks are also extended to Andrew Cottrell of Promac Paints and Chroma Flo, as well as Mica Hardware, Graaffreinet, for supplying the paint and plaster necessary for the completion of the project.
Locals and visitors alike are invited to visit the Royal Block to view the completed artwork.
A legacy project of vast proportions The Giant Flag initiative, the offices of which is situated in Graaff-reinet, is a project which aspires to construct a giant flag made up of millions of coloured desert cacti and succulents, and a four-megawatt solar field, on previously-barren land on the outskirts of Graaff-reinet. Viewable from space and the size of 66 soccer fields, the Giant Flag is considered a new model of economic stimulus for previously disadvantaged communities and a celebration of the spirit of South Africa and her people. Visit their website, www.giantflag.co.za, to find out more.
Umasizakhe’s Royal Block shortly after the original dilapidated façades of the houses were plastered and given a new coat of paint.
This photo was taken of Umasizakhe’s historic Royal Block before the project was tackled.
A silhouette being painted on a residence in Umasizakhe’s Royal Block.
The residences in Umasizakhe’s Royal Block upon commencement of the project.