We have reached a 100 days of lockdown in South Africa. There is no argument that the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating and comes with much uncertainty. Festivals and events were prohibited in an effort to flatten the curve and the 8th Hermanus FynArts Festival was forced to turn digital in June. Come July the relaxation of regulations permitted the installation of street art in the tourism centre of Hermanus.
Initiated by Onrus sculptor Jaco Sieberhagen, 18 local artists changed ordinary street poles or bollards at Hermanus Old Harbour into tubular works of art. When asked about the inspiration for the designs many artists answered that they wished to lift spirits. After more than 3 months of isolation residents are eager to see new colour and individualism. Something as functional and plain as a street pole has been given a personal touch. The project also portrays the collaborative spirit of our artists and their ability to add fresh energy. The art is placed very publicly, opening it up to everyone to appreciate and interpret as they see fit. Strijdom van der Merwe, South African land artist, opened the exhibition and said that this new public art sets Hermanus apart as a town, giving it a community identity in a time when so many places are starting to look the same.
Art has always reflected on society and the times. During a time of crisis we turn to art for different reasons and by looking at the decorated bollards in Hermanus the viewer is invited to translate their own experience.