Using surplus space to showcase artistic expression


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The Cape Creative Exhibition was the brainchild of Patrick Schofield and the Indalo Project in Cape Town, South Africa. The multi-disciplinary exhibition showcased the creative talent of Cape Town during the 2010 FIFA World Cup and brought together selected ranges of craft, design, fine art, film and performing art in a refurbished empty building. Mr. Schofield stated, “We had an empty building, a whole country in celebration for a month, visitors from all over the world; together, a fantastic opportunity to showcase creative Cape Town. This is the first public exhibition we’ve undertaken and we planned to raise a brow or two. Our mandate is to push the creative edge in Cape Town and South Africa, what better way than turning a whole building into an exhibition space, and to tip it off – on the Greenpoint fan mile!”

The Indalo Project is an organisation which aims to develop and showcase local design in all its elements. To further that purpose, Mr. Schofield was in conversation with the owner of 37 Main Road to utilise his building for a creative space – a building that would have to be cleaned up or knocked down because it was on the “Golden Mile” for the 2010 FIFA World Cup games.

Meanwhile, Mr. Schofield had also been in contact with Nombelelo Mkefa, City of Cape Town's Tourism Department, to discuss the creative centre. He asked Ms. Mkefa if there would be funds to assist in creating a temporary creative exhibition in the building. The result was an exciting private-public partnership. The City of Cape Town's Tourism Department funded the project with R199,900.00 (about USD 27,500) and R113,000 (about USD15,500) went to renovations of the building. In addition, many commercial organisations such as Superior Vision and Econo-loo sponsored equipment, without which Cape Creative Exhibition would not have been as successful.

The next phase of transforming the empty building into an exhibition space required the creativity and organizational skills of Thessa Bos and Chantal Louw – co-founders of The Fringe Arts. The Fringe Arts has a core project that is an art & design collective that does not have a permanent store anywhere, but intentionally "pop-up" in empty spaces or as part of exhibitions. Mr. Schofield had seen their first pop-up which took place at Cape Town City Hall as part of Spier Contemporary 2010 and he engaged the two women to launch their second pop-up – the Cape Creative Exhibition.

In just five weeks, Thessa & Chantal brought together, organised the various artists/organizations and served as curators for the exhibition itself. For the actual renovation another remarkable woman, Nicci Drezwicki of DRZ Architects was part of the team of three who were behind the 'mask' who was able to turn the building from dereliction into dreams. She had fallen in love with the building, could see its potential and gave of her time freely to make it happen. A range of artists were assigned dedicated spaces in the refurbished three-story building, where they performed during the exhibition. Performances covered a variety of genres and included short films and documentaries, theatre, dance and craft.

The Cape Creative Exhibition was launched on June 10, 2010 by the City of Cape Town’s Tourism Department in partnership with the Cape Craft Design Institute (CCDI). The space housed the Visual Arts Network SA - Western Cape (VANSA), the Performing Arts Network SA (PANSA), Cape Film Commission, the Africa Centre and the CCDI. It also housed an art cake cafe by Martin Senekal and The Fringe Art pop-up store/gallery.

The results of transforming surplus space to showcase artistic expression are impressive. In addition to a total of 82 craft producers of handmade Western Cape craft and design – in the five weeks it was open (June to 18 July 2010), the Cape Creative Exhibition hosted over 45 performances, workshops and functions. Excluding the number of people who attended the performances and functions, the Cape Creative Exhibition was visited by over 1,500 people, 80 percent of whom were international visitors.

Ms. Bos stated, “What was special was that it was the first time that a range of creative professionals from the performing arts, the visual arts and other sectors came together in one building to showcase what they are about and to profile the level of organisation that exists in the creative industry in the Western Cape. The exhibition has shown that there is most definitely scope for a repeat of this collaboration or to do it on a more permanent basis. It was also very important that Creative Cape Town has a space in the house where they showcased what they are about and that they held their Design Network meeting there.”


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