Street art festival looks to the future

Justin Nomad with his mural on the corner of Tennyson and Burns streets.

Local and international artists came together to create public murals around Salt River as part of the third International Public Art Festival (IPAF).

The festival, under the theme, “Generation Next: Educate, Collaborate, Empower”, ran from Saturday February 9 to Sunday February 17, with 23 artists taking part.

Baz Art founder Alexandre Tilmans said this year’s IPAF theme focused on the future and the responsibility of present and successive generations to create a better world for all.

He said they wanted to put Salt River back on the map with the festival – as the area had once been a well-known textile hub.

“You always hear people speaking about Woodstock and Observatory when it comes to craft and design, but seldom about Salt River, and we wanted to change that,” he said.

Mr Tilmans said they also wanted to give street artists an opportunity to share their talents, as their work was not always recognised.

He said they used different artists every year and worked with them throughout the year to find commission work.

Johannesburg artist Seth Pimentel said his mural on the corner of Chatham and Lower Main roads, dealt with youth culture and technology and was an ode to his favourite artist, Jean-Michel Basquia.

“People need to be exposed to art and let go of the preconceived notion that you have to go to a gallery to view art. The festival not only helps to uplift the area but also shows that there is a career in the arts,” he said.

Tasneem Chilwan-Soni and her husband, Shaheen, from Crawford, said they were approached by the Tennyson Street Mosque, to do a piece opposite the mosque.

They decided on a Arabic calligraphic piece using a modern style with traditional pattern work.

Ms Chilwan-Soni said they were excited to be part of the festival as they got to show off their skills and inspire others to pursue a career in art.

The couple, who own the Soni Art Studio, said it was their first outdoor mural and hoped it would be a point of conversation.

Aida Gomez, from Spain, chose an interactive piece, Human Contact, where she asked the community and the public to leave their fingerprints on the mural.

Justin Nomad decided to create a library, on the corner of Tennyson and Burns streets, showing the contrasting ways of learning that present and future generations would experience.

After speaking to locals, he learnt that the mobile library, which once visited the area but no longer does – used to park on the corner where his mural is now.

“The look and feel of the mural includes ‘old sepia photographs’ associated particularly with monochrome photographs of the 19th and early 20th centuries – and illustrates outdated and possibly obsolete ways of learning. With this mural, I hope to provoke thought, conversation and action concerning the changing context of education,” he said.

The festival included guided tours by community members Nadia Agherdine and Anthea Brock, who have been involved with the project since 2017.

Ms Agherdine said this year’s pieces had been well received by the community and tourists.

She said her favourite pieces included the library by Justin, the Arabic calligraphy mural and Aida’s interactive art work.