Challenging our perception of public sculpture


Cool Capital, Pretoria’s own bi-annual guerrilla art and design festival, intends to promote the city as the sculpture capital of South Africa. Pretoria has a rich history of public sculpture as many prominent South African sculptors originally hail from the city. For the 2016 Cool Capital Biennale a project that challenges the way we think about public sculpture, has been initiated. “Saadjies” brings to the public a collection of miniature artworks. In line with Cool Capital 2016’s theme, SMALL IS BIG, the project demonstrates that sculpture needs not be monumental to have a powerful impact.

The title “Saadjies” is the Afrikaans word for seeds or pods. “Our intention with the “Saadjie” project is to foster an appreciation and create awareness of the importance of sculpture and its impact in the built environment,” says Cool Capital convenor, Pieter Mathews.

“Saadjies” is an un-curated collection, which means that all small works were accepted. It provides a platform to emerging artists, and the small scale makes it affordable for young artists. Susie Goodman, General Manager Strauss & Co, Johannesburg, says “We are delighted to be part of this innovative project that will bring to the public the work of new and emerging artists in a fun and unconventional way. It is also a wonderful opportunity for young artists to show their work alongside that of more established artists in a city with a rich sculpture tradition.”

Cool Capital received overwhelming response to the open invitation for participation. Given the great interest, it was decided not to limit the project to Pretoria-based sculptors, but to invite artists from all over the country. Over 80 artworks, from 75 artists, were submitted. As a collection, “Saadjies” is truly representative of the contemporary art scene with established artists such as Angus Taylor, Guy du Toit, Gordon Froud and Jan van der Merwe taking part alongside up-and-coming artists, sculptors, students and enthusiasts.

An important aspect of “Saadjies” is the extensive social media campaign #saadjies which forms part of Cool Capital’s strategy to make art more accessible and take it beyond the traditional gallery space. Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) has recently awarded a grant to the project. “The BASA Supporting Grant programme aims to support art and business partnerships. We look forward to seeing this business/art partnership grow from seed to strength to sustainability,” says Michelle Constant, CEO of BASA.

Artworks have been travelling to locations all over the world where they are photographed in different urban environments. The interaction between artwork, photographer and passerby as well as onlooker in the virtual and physical realm allows creativity and ideas to spread beyond the borders of our city. Moreover, the campaign allows us to view Pretoria from a different perspective and to learn from the other cities to which the “Saadjies” have travelled.

Sponsorships from Mathews & Associates Architects, Strauss & Co. Fine Art Auctioneers and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) made it possible to exhibit “Saadjies” as a travelling exhibition. The first exhibition is set to open during Cool Capital in Pretoria on 22 September at the studio and house of Anton van Wouw, one of South Africa’s most eminent sculptors. In this studio, sculptors met in 2014 during Cool Capital to discuss how Pretoria’s sculpture legacy can be celebrated. After the exhibition in September 2016 at Van Wouw House, “Saadjies” is on show at the Alumni Hall of the NWU gallery in Potchefstroom as part of Aardklop. Thereafter the collection will travel to Richmond, with plans underway to take the collection to the Cape and beyond in 2017.

The artworks as well as photographs of the works will be on display. A sneak preview of the “Saadjies” documentary film (to premiere in 2017) will be shown at the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria on Sunday 25 September. Members of the public are invited to participate and take the concept of “Saadjies” further by creating their own miniature artworks and posting photos of their work in the city on Instagram. #saadjies #coolcapital2016 @coolcapital

For more information contact Jana Kruger or 086 111 6222.

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