PE’s Donkin Upgrade Winning Artists The
Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA)
has announced the
winning proposals for their public art campaign.
The successful artists were announced at a gala event late last week.
The competition received almost 100 submissions, largely from local
artists. The winning artists will be assisted in realising
their proposals within the context of the overall Donkin Upgrade
project and the MBDA believes it will add substantial value to the
vision for the site and to the city as a whole . This
programme will be overseen by the Workplace Consortium. The
Donkin Reserve upgrade has been commissioned by the MBDA, who
was mandated by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) to
rejuvenate the city centre and surrounds. The art pieces will
also form the first part of a far larger public art programme, the
Nelson Mandela Public Art Journey, linking the inner city
along a “Century Walk” and to the Heritage Gardens on the
Donkin Reserve.

MBDA Donkin ART Award WinnersThe winning artists
were: Mxolisi Sapeta (winner of Sit,talk, trade
piece); Duncan
(winner of river memory piece); Anthony Coke
(winner for Sit, talk, trade); Lisbet Demeyer (winner for Red Carpet
piece) and Anton Momberg (winner for Conversation piece).

Judges for this Art Journey “Request for Proposals” were
Dorelle Sapere (MBDA);
Debbie Wintermeyer (The
Workplace Consortium
Michael Barry (NMMU
representative and local artist); Joseph
Gaylard ( Johannesburg inner city art specialist); Marcus Neustetter
(Johannesburg public art specialist); David Jones (NMMU art
lecturer and artist); Jenny Fabbri (NMM art museum representative and
artist) and Monde Ngonyama (PE playwright).

MBDA Planning and Development Manager, Dorelle Sapere said,
“This public art process has now been formalised after the first, fun
competition wherein artists were asked to let their imaginations run
wild and tell us what they would do if given free reign with regards to
public art in the inner city. We requested
proposals for identified sites within and surrounding the
Donkin Reserve and have chosen the best artistic ideas for these

Sapere said that the MBDA was also committed to creating employment
opportunities wherever possible and would seek to enable emerging
artists to improve their skills and participate in the process.

“We are planning to run a mosaic workshop for 10 of the emerging
artists working under a mosaic specialist in collaboration with the
NMMU. This will create a group of established mosaic artists which can
be commissioned for future works such as large scale murals
etc. The workshop will run from the 7-10 December 2009. It is
intended that the pieces created in the workshop will be installed as
part of the various paving and wall patterns on the Donkin Reserve.”

The winning artist for
the Red Carpet instalment is Lisbet Demeyer
Said Sapere, “There are a number of prominent and heritage worthy
buildings around the Reserve, such as the King
Edward Hotel – now upgraded. Picking up on the hotel’s charisma, we
felt there was an opportunity to pull the grandness of the Hotel onto
the Reserve and to bring the grass/green essence of the
Reserve to the building using the metaphor of the “Red Carpet”.

The winning artist for
the conversation piece is Anton Momberg:

“This site introduces the Donkin and frames the Pyramid across the flat
area of the Reserve. This will be a new signature
contribution to the Reserve addressing its history and its future and
responding to the conceptual framework and emphasising the presence of
the whole community of Mandela Bay on the Reserve,” noted

The River Memory Piece is
to be created by Duncan Steward:

“The Donkin Reserve has survived as a green open space within the high
development area of the city centre. We wanted to preserve
the memory of the original landscape by recognising the stream that
once flowed where Donkin Street runs down to Govan Mbeki

“This will be a commemoration of the natural
environment lying beneath the recent layers of Mandela Bay’s growth,”
explained Sapere.

The Sit Talk Trade piece
to be created by Mxolisi Sapeta and
Anthony Coke:

Said Sapere, “This art project will introduce a number of
places for pause on the reserve. The link between the King
Edward Hotel

and the Great Flag and Lighthouse is seen as a meandering path with low
structures that will encourage groups of people to settle and talk
or trade within a well managed public open space.”

Debbie Wintermeyer from The Workplace Consortium
explained, “We carried out a series of
public briefing sessions for artists so that they
were all aware of what we were
looking for and how they could enter their art and ideas for
public art. They were all well attended by artists from the
region and we received many wonderful artist proposals
. We are very excited about the winning proposals and can’t
wait to work with them to install these exciting public art pieces
within the Donkin Reserve and surrounds.”

Sapere explained further that the proposed Century Walk was the next
phase of the upgrade and was designed to link the Donkin with the
harbour area. It would start at the base of the Campanile, and end on
the summit of the Donkin. Here, a Great Flag will commemorate South
Africa’s achievement of democracy on a
daily basis – raised each morning and lowered at dusk. The
Heritage Gardens will be situated within the Donkin Reserve and will be
a celebration of the natural heritage of the region – bringing
extraordinary bio-diversity to the inner city .The focus here will also
be on the intangible heritage of the peoples of the Metro – providing
space and opportunity for storytelling, music, song, dance and all of
the arts and crafts of all of the cultures of the city .

Said Sapere, “With reference to the well known pyramid at the Donkin
Reserve, built by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his wife, there is
something universally important in the grief of a man for a greatly
loved wife – we believe that the entire reserve should be
rededicated to all women and children.”

Sapere added, ” The winning public art proposals for the Donkin Reserve
will kick-start the Public Art Journey project and I am sure every
resident of Nelson Mandela Bay is going to be very proud of the artists
and the work they will install in the area. This art is for the people
of the city, both now and in the future and we are hoping it will bring
the city and its history to vibrant life.”

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