Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Zebra Crossing

An interesting and thought-provoking project during the 2010 Soccer World Cup was the installation of 33 life-sized zebra sculptures throughout the city.  It's been fun discovering the colourful creations in quite unexpected places, on traffic islands and circles, in parks and outside an art gallery, close to a cathedral and at the beginning of the Company Gardens Walk.  I've also found several near the Fan Walk to the Stadium and near the Promenade, so quite a few still to discover.

The zebra are understandably popular with small children and I've had to stand in line for my turn to take photographs while parents hoist little ones up on to the sculptures to take snaps with cellphones.  I find myself  imagining a generation of kids some time in the future asking grandma or grandpa why mom and dad  were photographed perched up on top of those strangely coloured animals.

This handsome fellow looked pretty ordinary until you noticed the rather manic-looking eyes changing from an eerie purple to red, green, blue and yellow, evoking shrieks of delicious terror from his fans.

The aim behind this project, quoting from the website Not all is Black and White  "..... is to highlight South Africa's contribution to a world beset by challenges.  An appropriate visual metaphor of such wisdom should be the African Zebra, carrying a message in both word and artistic form ..."  *

Artists were asked to incorporate into their creation one from a list of quotes by ex-President Nelson Mandela and this statue painted in  the colours of a famous brand of tractor had appropriate words on the small plough harnessed to the animal - "We do not want freedom without bread, nor do we want bread without freedom".

My favourite sculpture, a gentle-looking gold and white zebra resting, appropriately enough, outside St George's Cathedral.

"We live in an interdependent world which is bound together to a common destiny"

"There is no easy walk to freedom"
"I will go down on my knees to beg those who want to drag our country into bloodshed and persuade them not to do so.
"Deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity"

A double-headed zebra - Andi and I played a guessing game as we walked up to this sculpture but the message was clear from the circular inscription - and very appropriate.

"When you negotiate you must be prepared to compromise"

Click to see a larger view and you'll notice that the structure is see-through, which I think is also appropriate to the message.

This eye-catching creation was plastered with street signs and remembrance plaques of historical significance.  90 Plein Street is the address of our Parliament.

Two people trying to read the plaque beneath the zebra whilst their daughter, who had been strictly forbidden to do so, photographed them from the bridge above.

X-ray vision?

This installation had me completely baffled.  There wasn't any inscription that I could see -  any suggestions or interpretations are welcome.

"Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression"

*  Quotations Nelson Mandela.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leaving with Honour

Bafana Bafana bowed out of the World Cup on Tuesday with their heads held high and their fellow countrymen proud of their skill, passion and determination on the field of play.  Beating France two nil was an incredible achievement  even if it wasn't enough to take us through to the next round. 

During the match we felt a little edgy ...

and after all the tension and excitement of the game, not to mention the yelling and vuvuzela blowing, we were exhausted.

But we'll pick ourselves up, continue to fly our own flag on our cars, pick another team to support and continue to enjoy ourselves.

Because we are the Rainbow Nation and as the rainbow artwork says "It's Beautiful Here".  It really is, you know.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blow those vuvuzelas!

If ever we needed a little magic the time is now.  The South Africa vs France game has kicked off even as I write this and this is our last chance to make it through to the next round.

We know we were lucky to even play in the first round (purely as the hosts of the World Cup) but after the first game against Mexico, we dared to dream a little.  And South Africans are great dreamers.  The second game against Uruguay somewhat battered those hopes and today's game depends on the prayers and longing of a nation.

Make a noise and wave the flag ...

We'll try and get the help from any source we can ...

We're good at singing and dancing too, so that must count ...

We'll even blow our vuvuzelas whilst having our pictures taken ...

In fact, we'll do pretty much anything to give a good account of ourselves this afternoon.

Above all else, we've loved being able to take part in the opening rounds of this thrilling and colourful event and even if we get no further, the excitement, the thrilling spectacle and non stop partying continues.

Late newsflash :

WE JUST SCORED A GOAL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Warm World Cup Welcome

Well, we pulled out all the stops on Friday for our World Cup visitors.  The flags were fluttering on anything that kept still for long enough, the Wheel of Excellence continued with its stately revolutions, the city streets rang with the sounds of vuvuzelas tuning up for the first match and nature produced a perfect summer day, warm and golden, in the middle of winter.

Andi and I drove down into the city centre with our cameras to try and get some last minute pictures before the streets were closed off.  We found parking, albeit illegal, according to a good natured official, who allowed us half an hour to snap away.

This large pool and fountain sit in the centre of the traffic circle in Adderley Street, the main road in the city which runs from the top end of town right down to the harbour.  The excitement was quite electrifying as people poured in their thousands from cars, buses, taxis and trains to make their way towards the soccer stadium (those lucky people with tickets)  and fan parks where giant TV screens would relay the opening ceremony and match from Soccer City in Johannesburg.

The fountain circle was a popular place for a group photograph ...

... to play your newly composed Concerto for Vuvuzela ...

... in B Flat major, I believe*.  Boy, does it hurt your lips after a while!

....  and compete, duelling banjos style, with another keen player.

In the meantime, all around the island, the traffic hurtled, hooters blowing, people leaning out of car windows blowing their vuvuzelas, flags fluttering from the car windows and brandished enthusiastically by passengers.  In all the time I've lived in Cape Town I've never seen or heard (most definitely not heard) anything like it.  

As we made our way back to the car I noticed this tranquil canal which also runs the length of Adderley Street.  The lime green trunks of the fever trees had been swathed in the various colours of the different flags and their reflections shimmered in the dark mirrored surface of the canal water.

 I must mention before closing off that I owe the pictures on this post to Andi.  In a moment of senior absent mindedness  I deleted a memory card of images, under the impression that I'd already downloaded them.  I've never done this before and, hopefully, I'll never do it again. 

*  I know next to nothing about music, so apologies if  this description is wrong!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Enchanted Tree

What would you think if you came across a tree with flamboyant blooms such as these?

Not to mention  an exotic bird peering down its nose from branches high up in a tree.

Well, you'd know that you were in Prestwich Square where more installation art is springing up with every day leading us closer to the World Cup.

The interesting thing about this installation is that the entire piece is made from recycled items.  City refuse bins and bottle tops,  plastic coffee tin covers and cut up cold drink cans; despite the many colours you could say that it's almost green art.

Something of a rest for the eyes was this simple little design silhouetted against the golden office building.

I noticed the word "Truth" written in several places as I walked around.  It was on a noticeboard behind the tree installation in the third picture above and then in several spots on this beautiful old pickup.

Although strictly forbidden to do so, my daughter always manages to snap a picture of  me snapping pictures.  My objection is that she never gives me time to stretch my neck to a more swanlike shape or suck in my stomach (quite an effort these days).  But The Truth was the message on the Chevy, so The Truth it must be.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Four Days to Go!

Here it is, South Africa's secret weapon for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the mighty vuvuzela!  The giant horn, 35m long and 5.5m in diameter has been mounted on the end of Cape Town's infamous, unfinished freeway (a story in itself).  The electronic countdown notes the number of days to the start of the World Cup, four today,  and apparently the horn will sound an ear-splitting blast every time a goal is scored in a match.  Thank goodness goals in soccer matches are lower than in rugby matches, is all I can say.

The vuvuzela blown at soccer matches (and unfortunately, increasingly everywhere else) is a plastic trumpet about a metre in length and produces a deafening bray. When blown enthusiastically by thousands the sound resembles a swarm of really  loud, angry bees, becoming overwhelming when the home team scores.  Decibel levels are apparently enough to affect the hearing after ten minutes and earplugs are advised. 

Sunday afternoon was mellow and warm and as unlike a winter's day as possible and a ride down into town was rewarded by all kinds of interesting sights.  One of the new bridges built for the World Cup lead us over the eight lane Buitengracht highway, then via a short walk to Prestwich Square.

Several works had already been installed (more about these tomorrow) but two artists were busy putting the finishing touches to one of their pieces.  The dazzling lime green table and chairs, made from multitudinous plastic-coated wires are also their creation.

Beaded spheres on delicate silver branches tangle gracefully from a basket-weave trunk.

Intricate detail of chair and table "roots"

Dreaming for now ...

I knew that the inactivity wouldn't last for long.

The temptation to lend a helping hand was irresistible.

Shortly after this, my husband was helping to lift the tree into the air and fix the base into position.

To understand this piece of art you have to know that Cape Town's prevailing summer wind is the south-easter and many of the smaller trees subjected to the full blast of the gale develop a characteristic sloping shape, as depicted by this piece.

Up she goes, and it's Tree in a South-Easterly Wind.  Apologies to the artists for not including their names.  I didn't have a pen with me and my memory is not the best, but I hope they get lots of visitors.  They deserve it after all the work that went into these creations.


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