Cue Online
Thursday, 07 July 2011 11:27

At St Mary’s Day Care Centre, nearly 30 children are seated in the dining hall in front of steaming bowls of bean soup. They are at school instead of at home on holiday because there is nothing to eat at home. To recognise the importance of the Centre to the Grahamstown community, it is the venue of the first in a series of public artworks to be installed during the Festival.

Every year from now, one public artwork will be installed during the Festival, dedicated to the Grahamstown community. This year, the Festival is partnered with Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) to create the project. The sculptor is Zach Taljaard, curator of the Johans Borman Gallery in Cape Town, and he is in the process of creating the concrete installation. “Grahamstown is in need of an interactive space for art,” he says.

Taljaard was chosen because he had lived in Grahamstown for 10 years, and won the PPC Cement Young Concrete Sculptor Award in 2001. “Because this project is linked to PPC and sponsored, the link between the cement and the work is quite necessary,” he says.

Taljaard’s sculpture is especially suited to the St Mary’s venue as his work deals with childhood and memories. His sculpture is titled Dreamer. Its mould appears to be a square block but on the two panels are separate objects: a child’s face and a balloon. Taljaard says the symbols create “a timelessness.” “This piece looked at the idea of dreaming and how people either follow their dreams or forget about them. Usually one starts dreaming as a child about what you want to do some day,” he says.

He chose a negative relief sculpture to relate to an absent person whose previous dreams “paved the way for us today to be luckier in life”. The balloon is the link between the physical and ethereal world: “The dreams are more fluid, you can dream of anything.” This relates to the school, St Mary’s, that gives opportunities to disadvantaged children to follow their dreams.

The sculpture is not only a beacon of hope but a tribute to the late Dr Thelma Henderson, recognised with the President’s National orders, who was the founder of St Mary’s.

Five tonnes of cement will be going into the mould. Taljaard says the school children can interact with sculpture once it is complete. “It’s quite playful. Someone can actually climb onto it (he points to the relief of the balloon) and slide off it,” he says.

The sculpture is to be put up on Saturday at 2pm, weather permitting. “That’s part of the process of being an artist, you work with what is around you,” he says.