“Someone once said that art starts where words no longer have any meaning,” said FynArts Festival Director, Mary Faure at the opening of the ‘Artist for Hermanus – Hermanus for Artists’ project on Saturday 4 July. This collaboration between FynArts and a group of local artists was the brainchild of Jaco Sieberhagen, who came up with the idea of uniting 17 artists in the common purpose of turning the bollards along Marine Drive in front of the War Memorial into public works of art.
Jaco is a well-known Onrus-based sculptor who has been involved with the annual Sculpture on the Cliffs exhibition since the inaugural FynArts Festival. With the Covid-19 pandemic having disrupted not only the usual format of the festival, but also the livelihoods of our local artists, Jaco realised what a challenge it had been for them to stay positive and to continue coming up with creative ideas to keep the pot boiling.
“I believe that this optimistic, keep-on-going spirit is one of the distinct characteristics of artists,” said Jaco, “and it’s something they have now been able to offer our town during a time when we have been challenged as never before.” These public works of art, he believes, will serve as an inspiration for residents and future visitors to Hermanus.
The project certainly attracted a lot of attention from the public as the participating artists – Charmé Southey, Terry Kobus, Jenny Jackson, Malcolm Bowling, Mardee Zwe, Obert Jongwe, Carl Becker, Lidi de Waal, Alyson Guy, Charmaine De Jong Gelderblom, Anna Lamprecht, Leon Müller, Jeandré Marinier, Christine Henderson, Geta Finlayson and Lize Van der Walt (Ed Bredenkamp was unfortunately ill and not able to participate, as planned) – each painted one bollard over the course of Friday and Saturday morning.
“I am very grateful to Jaco for suggesting this project as a collaboration under the FynArts umbrella,” said Mary at the opening, adding that without the support of the Overstrand Municipality and, in particular, Cllr Kari Brice and Hermanus Area Manager, Anver Wyngaard, it would never have happened.
The ‘Artist for Hermanus – Hermanus for Artists’ project was executed while complying with the strict safety measures issued by the municipality, including social distancing, which is why only every second bollard was allocated to an artist.
“Each one had the opportunity to paint the bollard in their own distinctive style and also sign the work in order for visitors to get an appreciation of their unique visual voice,” said Jaco. “FynArts provided the necessary enamel paint and thinners for the cleaning of brushes. The artists brought their own brushes, cloths and palettes to mix their colours, and had to ensure that the pavement was kept immaculately clean from any paint. It is also the responsibility of the artists to ensure that the bollards remain in pristine condition after completion of the project.”
Mary called this initiative “a bold statement that there is still colour and beauty all around us during this difficult time” and expressed the hope that the project would expand and continue into the future. (After all, there are still many more bollards in Hermanus that could benefit from the same ‘treatment’!)
A special guest at the opening, all the way from Stellenbosch, was another FynArts stalwart, sculptor and land artist Strijdom van der Merwe, who said public art was a strong expression of place and identity. “Towns and cities with public art are more attractive to visitors, entrepreneurs and artists, because they convey a sense of meaning, uniqueness and connectivity,” he said. “Public art allows all people to experience art in their daily lives.”