Spier Architectural Arts

Brett Murray's five-headed 'Citizen' sculpture installed at Telesure HQ

Brett Murray's new public artwork - all three tonnes of it - has been installed at Telesure's headquarters in Johannesburg. Commissioned by Spier Architectural Arts on behalf of Telesure's Arts Programme, the sculpture was created to complement its site - the large, corporate Auto & General Park.

Standing over 7.5 metres high, Citizen celebrates the power of the individual within the collective; the five abstracted, stacked heads describing the coming together of minds. The totem-like, metallic structure is inspired by the linguist staffs held by Ghanaian poets; which convey symbolism alluding local proverbs.

Murray purposefully excluded a plinth for the sculpture, to encourage engagement from passersby who are able to feel the materiality and scale of the piece. In speaking of the role of public art, Murray stresses the necessity of effectively expressing an idea, as opposed to making more obscure statements common to gallery spaces.

He illustrates further: "The great attraction of producing public artworks is that it gives artists an opportunity to reach a broader audience. A less obvious attraction is the chance it provides artists to work closely with highly skilled artisans, welders, moulders, bronze casters, fettlers riggers and engineers".

This was certainly the case with the production of ‘Citizen’, which took 10 months of collaboration with Bronze Age casters and Grandi Manufacturing metalwork engineers to ensure the work's structural stability. These processes are captured in the making-of video. Citizen is also featured in Brett Murray's self-titled book which he launched in January this year. Spanning his entire career - from his 80s cultural/struggle work, through to The Spear - the book contains rich imagery and reflective texts which describe the artist and the man.


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