Massive public sculpture commissioned for PE


Two of the Eastern Cape’s most celebrated artists, Mxolisi “Dolla” Sapeta and Louwrens Westraad, have claimed the top honours in the search by Baywest for a sculpture which celebrates Nelson Mandela Bay and its residents.

The design, titled ujiva (Xhosa for dancing), was chosen out of a shortlist of 18 submissions from throughout the region, netting the duo a R50,000 cash prize and the bragging rights of designing and developing one of the tallest public art sculptures in the metro.

In keeping with the brief that submissions speak to the spirit of the Baywest City development – namely a passion for fun; a hub of excitement; and festive celebrations – the duo concluded that the act of dancing embodied all the required aspects of the brief.

“Dance in Africa is considered to be an important method of communication. This art form is practised in various styles throughout our vast continent,” said the duo in their statement of intent which accompanied their submission. “The artwork in part also represents the resilient energy of the people of Nelson Mandela Bay, who symbolically light up our ‘Friendly City’.”

Work on the massive sculpture will start early next year. It will be positioned on the new traffic circle at the end of Sherwood’s Walker Drive, near to Baywest Mall and the new off-ramp to the N2 freeway.

Constructed out of steel, ujiva will also feature multi-coloured solar-powered LED lights, with the solar panels installed at the top of the sculpture.

“In the beginning I thought of designing a giant orb, but that was a little too abstract,” said Westraad.

“This is an apolitical sculpture for the city. The dancers do not belong to any specific race or creed; they are universal and represent fluidity, endurance and strength.”

Sapeta said the design “allows for a lot of interactivity using dance”.

“This is in contrast to our highly politicised landscape. When you’re dancing, you’re free. The spherical nature of the sculpture relates to Africa with its rondavels and traditional meetings which take place with people sitting in a circle.”

Competition coordinator Cedric Vanderlinden, owner and director of Park Drive’s Underculture Contemporary fine arts gallery, said the calibre of entries meant the judging panel had a hard time choosing an overall winner.

“The good news for the other great submissions is that Baywest is interested in commissioning those artists for public art which will be dotted throughout the Baywest City precinct,” said Vanderlinden.

Baywest City MD Gavin Blows said the response to the call for submissions had shown the immense talent embedded in the region.

“Our aim is to celebrate and profile all that this wonderful region has to offer,” said Blows. “As Baywest, we are supporters of art in general and urban art in particular. Urban art has the wonderful ability to provide soul to an area, and this piece will be followed by more over time. Supporting local artists is key to this campaign.”