Blooming marvellous

Nine large-scale metal tree sculptures with colourful, rotating mid-sections have given new life to Juta Street in Johannesburg.

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The virtual greening is an offshoot of a project to develop a cultural arc spanning Constitution Hill, Braamfontein and Wits University’s East Campus across the Mandela Bridge through to Newtown. The concept of a cultural arc was identified by Professor Carolyn Hamilton of Wits University and developed by the Johannesburg Development Agency.

Standing about three metres tall, the trees’ organic shapes and curvy lines bring dashes of colour to the urban landscape between Bertha, De Beer and Melle streets.

The tree sculptures have their roots in a series of conceptual design workshops held in Newtown last year by The Trinity Session – a contemporary art production team – with professional designer Claire Regnard and a group of students from the Imbali Visual Literacy Project at the Bus Factory. Students made small-scale tree designs from recycled materials like tyres, tin cans and plastics. Regnard developed these into larger, tree-like designs that now nestle in concrete planters, much to the delight of passers-by.

“We needed tree sculptures that would be strong to withstand the weather, so I took some elements from the students’ designs and created human-scale expressions of tree-like metal forms,” said Regnard.

“The public can play with the colourful inner part of the trees which can be set revolving with a mere touch. The sculptures are interactive in nature.”

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