Imagine turning off into Techno Park from the R44 on your way to work one morning and noticing that all the trees lining Techno Avenue have been transformed into giant pot plants. Or, as you drive past the dam further up the road, catching sight of a flotilla of paper boats drifting serenely across the water. And then, after you've parked your car, you take a few seconds to pedal on an exercise bike that sets into motion an enormous, dancing Meccano robot.
You may think you've wandered into some artist's dreamworld, and you wouldn't be completely wrong. TechstelSRA, the non-profit organization that was created last year to manage the affairs of the Techno Park Special Ratings Area, have begun to discuss plans to bring public art to some of the communal spaces in the park. And even though these plans are still in an early phase, the prospect of a creative renaissance in the midst of the fast-growing technology and business hub is certainly one to get excited about.
Andi Norton is the Managing Director of Imagine Inc., the Stellenbosch-based creative consultancy that has been asked to develop a concept and strategy for bringing public art to the park. Norton's passion for the arts took off eight years ago, when she began to work on various exhibitions with renowned sculpture artist Dylan Lewis. Since then, she has been involved in a number of creative projects, including Design Indaba, a Rodin exhibition at the Rupert Museum, a Tretchikoff show at the Iziko National Gallery, and a number of public art installations for the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust. Visitors to Stellenbosch may notice a brand new, giant vista of Jonkershoek adorning the side of a building in Market Road. This public artwork – an enlarged photograph by internationally famous local artist Daniel Naudé – is one of the most recent projects that has been facilitated by Norton and Imagine Inc.
Citing the observation that "creativity is intelligence having fun", Norton proposes an art strategy for Techno Park that brings a childhood sense of playful innovation to the environment. Her idea is to spark creativity through a series of regular, themed public art interventions, drawing on the talents of the many well-known and emerging artists she has access to through her professional network.
Norton's enthusiasm about the ways in which public art can help to grow a sense of community is evident in her work, and her vision for Techno Park does not disappoint. By engaging with and promoting what is already there in the park – the natural and built environment, the intellectual capital – public artworks become an investment in the future of the precinct, calling up an image of innovative cities as places that enable "a creative union of technology, arts an civics" (as Mark Davy, the founder of Futurecity in London, describes it). Especially today, when divisions between communities often seem to threaten our collective sense of identity, public art has the potential to foster a shared experience of reality across boundaries.
So if you come across some fantastic sights in Techno Park in the coming months and years, don't worry, there's no need to check your meds – it's art. Remember the words of Pablo Picasso, who said that "every child is an artist; the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Have some fun, participate, give voice to your creativity.
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