Commuters in Cape Town report nearly driving off the highway passing the Civic Centre as they gaze, astonished, at a giant mural of Nelson Mandela adorning the tall building.
The image of Mandela, in his trademark wildly patterned and colourful shirts, spans 14 windows across and 32 windows down, which cover a total of 448 windows. The illustration was drawn by Linsey Levendall, and conceputualised by Abraham Collins and Alberic Vollmer of Dreamfuel Media as part of a wider project to honour Mandela and his time in the Western Cape.
“The exhibition was conceived as part of the Executive Mayor’s (Patricia de Lille) 2013 campaign to honour Nelson Mandela,” Collins explains. “The project is managed by Ayesha Ismail Media and the concept was put together by Oryx Media. We were commissioned to come up with a creative concept to brand the entire campaign and to design the exhibition. A major part of this project is the photographic exhibition, which features photos of Madiba’s life and times in the Western Cape by Benny Gool and Adil Bradlow.”
Collins, Vollmer and Levendall previously comprised the Oryx Media graphic design team, where they were responsible for the design of various exhibitions for the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Nelson Mandela Museum.
“As Dreamfuel, Alberic and I were tasked to come up with a creative concept which would become the identity of this campaign. We came up with the idea of using Madiba’s shirt to embody some of the most iconic aspects of Cape Town. We commissioned artist Levendall to illustrate this concept, which he did beautifully. The artwork was very well received and we gave the City (mayor’s office) various concepts of how it can be rolled out. One of our very first ideas was to brand to Civic building,” says Collins.
Collins says the biggest challenge was to take Levendall’s artwork, which was originally drawn on an A3 size, and expand it to fit this massive space. “We had to print and rescan it to a much higher resolution. We then had to create a grid system and split the hi-res artwork into 448 individual blocks. It was very time consuming and pushed the limits of what our poor computers could handle,” Collins says.
The mural was printed on contra-vision, a material that doesn’t obscure the view from inside the building.
The shirt is an original artwork, and not one of Madiba’s real shirts, says Collins. “He used the paisley elements along with the icons as inspiration in creating the iconic Madiba shirt style,” he says.
Cape Town has reacted with awe to the giant mural. The reactions have been phenomenal!” says Collins. “As soon as the riggers started to apply the mural there was a buzz on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve had overwhelming positive feedback from the public, friends and the media. Considering Madiba’s current state of health I think the artwork has had an even bigger emotional impact on people.”
The artwork is meant to last from six months to a year but Collins and Vollmer hope it will stay up longer than that is it is weather resistant.
“Madiba has a very special place in our hearts,” says Collins. “He is a huge inspiration and the biggest icon we can think of. Alberic and I have been very fortunate to meet him. We consider it one of the biggest achievements in our lives. It has been such and honour and privilege to work on this project and have an association with such a great man.
Collins said work started on the project six months ago, long before Madiba’s current hospitalisation. We are saddened by his current state and our hearts go out to his family. It would be the greatest honour to us if this artwork serves in some small part as a memorial to Madiba,” Collins says.
The Cape Town Honours Nelson Mandela programme kicked off on Sunday night with the opening of a photographic exhibition by Gool and Bradlow by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond. It is a special project managed for the executive mayor by Ayesha Ismail Media. Roger Friedman and Benny Gool of Oryx Media put the creative concept for the project together.
The photographic exhibition at the Civic Centre contains a unique collection of photographs by Gool and Bradlow reflecting Mandela’s activities in the Cape. Collins and Vollmer also designed the exhibition.
“The inspiration for all of the above was Mr Mandela’s grace and humanity – and his unique dress sense,” say Oryx’s Roger Friedman.
Alberic Vollmer and Abie Collins of Dreamfuel Media at the opening of the Cape Town Honours Nelson Mandela programme, launched at a photographic exhibition at the Civic Centre.