Art expands

2018-11-13 06:01
Street artist Bart Smeets working on the mural.PHOTO: Melissa Cucci

Street artist Bart Smeets working on the mural.PHOTO: Melissa Cucci

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A mural, vying to be the Mother City’s largest, has been created in Harrington Street.

The mural, dubbed the largest public art mural in Cape Town, at 400m², was painted by artist Bart Smeets (also known as Smates) over 11 days.

The mural acts as an extension of – and billboard for – the third International Public Art Festival which takes place in Salt River in February.

The partnership in creating the mural embodies what Baz-Art, the NGO that runs the International Public Art Festival (IPAF), stands for, says Baz-Art’s Alexandre Tilmans.

The festival aims to show off the work of a mix of international and local artists, and brings artists from different backgrounds and cultures together to learn from one another other, Tilmans
explains.

Baz-Art collaborated with the Flanders Embassy in Pretoria and with Flanders State-of-the-Art in Belgium to bring Bart Smeets to Cape Town to create the public artwork. Smeets donated his time to the project, Tilmans adds.

Smeets is a Belgian street artist “who has always been a fan of realistic drawings and paintings, so after graduating he followed painting classes for about two years and that helped him to become the artist he is today”. In his late teens, Smeets started with graffiti and since September 2013 he has been a full-time street artist.

The mural reflects the IPAF 2019 theme of “Generation Next”, featuring a child, a dog and “aviation”. The mural also has a commemorative element, Tilmans adds, with a nod towards the centenary anniversary of the end of World War I. In the artwork, this “discreet touch” features in the helmet on the dog’s head. Although the brief was given by the IPAF, the design is entirely Smeets’s, Tilmans adds.
To secure this landmark mural, Baz-Art worked with the property owner and tenants to enlist their agreement for the giant artwork. The site was chosen as a large mural has not been done in the CBD for some time, says Tilmans.

“It will create a better atmosphere in Harrington Street. It’s colourful, it draws
attention.”

Baz-Art is working towards bringing Smeets back to Cape Town again so that he may create a subsequent masterpiece for IPAF in Salt River next February.

The festival is just one way Baz-Art works to create work opportunities for local artists. The festival allows the public to get know the artists, and for Baz-Art to “find jobs” for them. It also raises awareness that murals, graffiti and street art “can be beautiful”, Tilmans says.

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