Spier Architectural Arts

Infecting the City with a Pop-up Mosaic Studio

The Spier Arts Academy is taking its work outdoors this week - with a pop-up mosaic studio on St George's Mall. The intervention is one of 40 events which make up the Infecting the City Public Arts Festival across the Cape Town CBD.

Second and Third Year mosaic apprentices from the Academy will be working on two art pieces in collaboration with local artists and their designs - Audrey Anderson's Man and City and Liza Grobler's Blue Lines. The event presents a fantastic showcase of what we do - and the specialist skills, teamwork and dedication needed to realise the finished products.

Viewers are able to witness these large-scale mosaic pieces develop over time and importantly, are invited to engage with the creators while they work on these incredibly intricate artworks. In turn, apprentices have the opportunity to present their work to passersby, enjoying the change of scenery and acknowledgement by the public. According to third years Eugenia Mabeta and Isaac Njini, the first couple of Festival days have seen the pop-up studio surrounded by interested onlookers - who spread the word to their colleagues, ask for business cards and catch the action on video.

In addition, participation in public art - taking art and art-making outside - increases its visibility, impacts public spaces and engages with the public about their perceptions of art. As Tanner Methvin, Executive Director of the Africa Centre (which presents the Festival), explains:
"Our intentions with this Festival are to bring curiosity, wonder, beauty, empathy, pain, and new ideas out into the streets for everyone to engage with....and attempt for one week to transform it [the city] into a more complex, dynamic, interesting and welcoming place".

On Thursday 13th the pop-up studio will form part of the Festival's official tour, offering viewers a special live performance piece. Between 12pm and 5pm, students will create entirely new mosaics in conjunction with a marimba performance. Drawing on themes around the rhythm of teamwork and the refinement process inherent in mosaic-making, the performance will result in a mosaic artwork resonant of Umlabalaba or Twelve Men's Morris - a game popular in rural areas of South Africa.

Visit the pop-up studio from 10-14 March 2014, 9am - 5pm, at the intersection of St George's Mall and Waterkant Street. Watch the performance on Thursday 13th between 12pm and 5pm.


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