Earlier this year, we commissioned street artist Falko One to transform a length of car park wall near the Bellville Public Transport Interchange. His trademark bright, bold elephants have brought a bland barrier to life and provided a colourful marker for an otherwise nondescript area. Under our Art in Action programme, we actively seek out opportunities to use urban art as a signifier for change in the Bellville and Parow Central Business Districts. The Falko One artwork is the latest in the series.
Street art as a sign of renewal
The most recent mural in Bellville is just one example of how street art can be a sign of urban renewal in our cities. From Melbourne to San Francisco, and hundreds of cities in between, street art is becoming embedded as an expression of a city’s urban culture. A building’s blank wall is a canvas for street artists to make their mark. While the flipside of street art — graffiti tags — are markers of vandalism, neglect and dilapidation, street art can enliven an urban centre. Eye-catching, sometimes monumental, often thought-provoking artistic statements can beautify neighbourhoods and attract art lovers to a neighbourhood, whether to live, to work or simply to experience art outside of a traditional gallery. In this case, with their multiple bright colours, Falko’s elephants represent the diverse community that lives, works and moves through the area.
Art in Action
Our CEO, Warren Hewitt, explains the importance of creativity and innovation as a driver of change in urban environments: “Creativity is a powerful tool for urban communication. More pertinently, it is also a tool to build a more inclusive and vibrant region. Street art is not only a place-marker, it’s also a visual reminder of the value we place on our neighbourhoods. It reflects on, informs the community it reveals itself to. We have been careful to let the work speak for itself, to be informed by the community, rather than to impose it on them.” In 2015, we invited notable street artists to apply their creativity on blank walls on the main thoroughfare from Parow Station. The Parow Station Artcade features artworks from local street artists Lwando Lese, Jack Fox, See Saw Do, Freddy Sam and Chris Auret.
To continue the project, the GTP is also inviting emerging and experienced artists to participate, explains Hewitt: “We’re able to facilitate the process, so we’d love to hear from artists and also building owners who recognise the value of street art and who want to beautify their buildings.”