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More metal trees for city streets
05 July 2007

Following the "planting" a year ago of nine metal tree sculptures in Braamfontein, another 16 are being installed in the city's cultural arc.

 

Stephen Hobbs and Claire Regnard unveil the interactive trees

Stephen Hobbs and Claire Regnard unveil the interactive trees

ARTISTS are braving the winter chill to install another 16 colourful, metal tree sculptures in Braamfontein. These will complement the nine tree artworks already set up in the suburb, to give the area a fresh artistic look.

Of the new tree sculptures, five will be in the same street as the nine trees that were "planted" last year between Melle, De Beer and Bertha streets. The remaining 11 will extend west of the Mandela Bridge, across two blocks between Bertha, Station and Henri streets.

"Five of the new ones were installed 10 days ago on the west side of the Mandela Bridge," said Stephen Hobbs, the director of The Trinity Session.

The Braamfontein public artworks are an initiative born out of a partnership between the Johannesburg Development Agency and The Trinity Session, a contemporary art production team that runs The Premises, the art gallery in the Johannesburg Civic Theatre.

"We have a budget of R125 000 to complete the 16 new tree sculptures. The total budget for the entire tree sculpture project, including the nine that were launched last year, is about R200 000," Hobbs said.

The Trinity Session comprises of three young artists who bring a lot more than creativity to the company: Kathryn Smith is a critic, Stephen Hobbs describes himself as an "urbanism junkie" and Marcus Neustetter is an internet whiz.

The public art project is part of a broader initiative to create a visual trail through Joburg's cultural arc, which spans Constitution Hill, Braamfontein and the University of the Witwatersrand's east campus, then crosses the Mandela Bridge to Newtown, ending at the Bus Factory.

At the launch of the nine tree sculptures last July, Claire Regnard, a part-time visual art teacher who completed the large-scale design of the sculptures, was quoted as saying that "the difference between the tree sculptures is that one can touch and even speak to them, unlike art in a museum".

Life-size trees brighten Braamfontein
Life-size trees brighten Braamfontein

 

Hobbs added that students from the Imbali Visual Literacy Project at The Bus Factory came up with the original concept and developed small-scale designs of the tree sculptures, using recycled materials like tyres, tin cans and plastics.

"Claire took the designs by the students and created human-scale artworks of tree-like metal pieces."

Hobbs explained that the pattern, size and material used for the new tree sculptures were the same as the existing ones. "There is an exception for the three tree sculptures that will be installed closer to the Mandela Bridge. They are larger and have different patterns from the rest of the tree sculptures."

In April this year The Trinity Session was part of the project to install new artworks at the Gateway site on the corner of Ameshoff and Bertha streets.

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