A recycled tower of art

2016-10-30 09:59
iThemba Tower

Cape Town - An old and abandoned communications tower in the centre of Johannesburg has found a new life as an uplifting work of public art for the local community, and the neighbourhood was cleaned up at the same time.

At more than 20m high, the recently completed iThemba Tower, situated in Troyeville, Johannesburg, is made from an astonishing 7 000 recycled plastic bottles that were collected by local scholars and waste collectors. Each of them was filled with a “message in a bottle” and a small light for illuminating the tower at night.

Directed by artist, r1. with the assistance of a team of waste collectors (Morena Lenong, Nana Lenka, Moses Tshabalala and Tokelo Mahale) and the local community, the end product – which has taken three years to realise – is a living tribute to the work of collective action. Yet again r1. amazes us with his work’s ability to consistently address the end user as a human first, and really makes new the concept of public art.

One message inside the bottle reads “I hope to be a doctor,” another “I hope we clean our world and protect our nature,” and another, by Sanele Simelane, states: “We all need a place we can call home; love, respect and protection is all we need in this planet.”

To see the iThemba Tower yourself, visit the Spaza Art Gallery garden in Troyeville, Johannesburg.

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