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Joburg's massive mosaic made of plastic bottle tops for Arts Alive, has joined the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The Soweto Theatre is also being presented to the arts world.
FOR the first time in its 19-year history, the Joburg Arts Alive International Festival is making an appearance at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Tomorrow's Joy on display in NewtownTomorrow's Joy on display in NewtownThe public art work, Tomorrow’s Joy, which was commissioned by the City of Joburg and created during the 2010 Joburg Arts Alive International Festival, is on display at the annual national festival, which this year runs from 30 June to 10 July.
Tomorrow’s Joy is an enormous eco-conscious piece of art, a visual explosion of coloured bottle tops bounded together with fishing gut to form a suspended mosaic, measuring seven metres by 14 metres, or almost 100m2, and weighing 246kg.

It was made from more than 90 000 discarded plastic bottle tops and took 10 weeks to complete. Work on it involved eight community centres, 140 children, 30 disabled adults and 31 crafters.

The mosaic depicts children running through an open field – illustrating hope, celebration, simplicity and joy, according to artist Usha Seejarim. Seejarim is a co-founder of Such Initiative, the eco-art organisation behind the mosaic.

Each plastic bottle top, as well as other lids making up the mosaic, were woven together using fishing gut. It followed a colour-by-number embroidery pattern, she said.

It was initially erected at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, on 18 September 2010, as part of the extensive Joburg Arts Alive International Festival programme for that year.

Such Initiative is a collaborative effort of Seejarim and Hannelie Coetzee, a visual artist and photographer who combines land art, social documentary photography and collaborative art projects.

“This interaction with communities and people who both run and benefit from these projects affords Coetzee the opportunity to stay in touch with an ever-changing society. It also inspires her to work with communities and tell their different stories through emotive photo essays,” noted Seejarim during Arts Alive.

Arts Alive is the City’s flagship festival and it runs throughout September each year. It showcases everything art, from visual art to music, dance to theatre, and everything in-between. The festival is undertaken by the City’s department of arts, culture and heritage, along with other partnering organisations.

Soweto Theatre
The director of the department, Steven Sack, is at the National Arts Festival, where he is presenting the City’s new Soweto Theatre to the arts practitioners who have gathered in Grahamstown.

Opening soon: the Soweto TheatreOpening soon: the Soweto TheatreThe Soweto Theatre, which is due for completion later in the year, will open its doors for performances in early 2012. It will also be used as a venue for Arts Alive.
“We are very excited about what we believe is the first publicly funded theatre to be built since 1994,” Sack says.

“The theatre [will be] open from 2012, so it’s appropriate for us to go down to the biggest gathering of theatre practitioners in the country and let them know about the Soweto Theatre and its magnificent three venues.”

Presentation of the theatre at the National Arts Festival will further cement a relationship between it and Arts Alive. The two have had a flourishing partnership through the 969 Festival, which takes place during Arts Alive.

For 969, top productions from that year’s National Arts Festival are performed at Wits University throughout September. The name comes from the geographic distance between Joburg and the Eastern Cape university town.

Sack is also presenting a workshop as part of the National Arts Festival’s daily series of one-hour workshops titled “Hands On! Masks Off!” It is a way for arts professionals like Sack to share their knowledge and expertise with a growing industry of newly emerging arts managers.

“We are very excited about the potential that exists to connect with actors, producers, directors and others at the National Arts Festival and hope that many of those at the festival take the time out to see the bottle-top mosaic,” says Sack.

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