The Greater Tygerberg Partnership rolled out  a mural art project in Station Arcade, Parow, with the aims of using mural art to uplift the facades of some of the buildings and in so doing bring some colour and vibrancy to the area.

Our intentions are to improve the general look and feel of the arcade in the short term, and then drive investment to the area over the longer term (in line with the mandate and role of the GTP itself!).

We are working in partnership with the City of Cape Town who is also a founding partner of the company –  on a very exciting initiative known as the ‘Parow Art in Action Project’. The project already enjoys wide support at local level from a wide range of stakeholders at local level and the Chairperson of the Sub Council, Ald Clive Justus is the sponsor.

Street Art has become a powerful tool for urban communication, a way to make people stop, look and think. It’s an expression of social cohesion; art for everyone, taking art out of galleries and bringing it to the people.

In a nutshell, the buildings in Station Road Parow, many of which are in a state of decay, will be used as ‘canvasses’ for street murals. One of the walls has recently been completed. The first wall was completed by Chris Auret. Here is what Chris (one of Cape Town’s top 10 artists) had to say:

1. How do you feel about street art in your current city/environment? (Do you like it? How does your work stand out from the rest?)

I’m excited about the current street art “scene”, for lack of a better word. I’m relatively new to this world of public expression but I’m finding more and more that people are waking up to its benefits. The Woodstock area is one such example of how it has added to and further enhanced an atmosphere. The general feeling, for me at least, is that there is a new generation of painters, writers and general artists using the public arena as a playground, full of energy, nativity and big ideas. I love it. And here in Cape Town, we have only the brave and technically sound older generation of masters and rebels to thank.

As far as my work standing out amongst the other talented artists out there, I just hope it does so because it comes from my own colourful hands.

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2. Why should young up and coming artist get involved in community art projects such as the Art in Action? (Why are you involved?)

First and for most, it’s for a good cause. I believe if you are given a talent, you need to use it to do as much good as possible and only good will come of it. Talent is something to be harnessed and not abused. Secondly, for any young artist including myself, it’s a rare chance to add to your repertoire of work with creative freedom. This particular wall has become my biggest work to date and I’m greatly appreciative to the GTP for having given me such an opportunity.

3. Do you think Art can be used as a method of crime prevention?

It many ways, yes. I think it has the power to inspire a space and its people to become better as a whole. Who knows… inspiration can lead to new street lights, a change in someone’s personal attitude towards an idea or thought, or even encourage a young teen to put down a weapon or substance and pick up a paint brush or loud hailer in order to voice his/her frustrations rather than acting out against them. I think a blank wall can do a lot less!

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4. What positive attributes would Street Art bring to the Parow Station Arcade?

A short walk around the area would suggest it is more run down that it could be. I hope that new paint on old walls inspires and develops a much needed pride in the users surroundings. It’s possible that other building owners may catch on to the positive effects of Street Art and open new doors to new canvases. From there, I believe anything is possible.

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5. What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you as a result of your art?

There have definitely been a few cool things happen to me but one story springs to mind: in the beginning of the year I travelled by myself around the West Coast. I took some spare paint with me in hope that I may be able to pay for food and accommodation along the way by painting murals. That turned out to be exactly the case for 10 days in Elands Bay and 4 days in a small town called Dwarskersbos, where I painted a mural across both a backpackers and a restaurant for my stay. I honestly felt, although extremely simple, both murals instantly brought a new energy into their surroundings. Business even picked up before I left. It was more than a fair trade in my eyes. I returned to Cape Town smiling.

6. What would you consider being good street art?

The answer for me here actually lies within the question. Good street art, for me, has to be “considered”. There should be a thought behind the work; a message from the artist to the public. Depending on its execution, the viewer will have to decipher this thought. The better the execution and concept relationship, the clearer the message will be received. And this can literally range from the black-marker-scribble of text on a train seat to a 10 storey mural in the heart of a city.

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7. Do you see art as an emotional outlet and what does it mean to be able to express yourself on a blank canvas?

Art, for me, is almost only an emotional outlet. Through it I explore my frustrations and solutions. It has allowed for me to voice these things and in return receive responses, thus acting as an emotional inlet as well. And from those responses I am able to learn and grow further. To express myself on a blank canvas is to share with the viewer my ever-moving vision, a part of myself made vulnerable to judgement, and hopefully start a conversation.