Paul du Toit public artwork unveiling in Cape Town

We interview Lorette du Toit about her husband's bronze sculpture and bench being unveiled on 28 February 2015, on the corner of Bree and Shortmarket Streets.

Part of the Project

Sculpture was artist Paul Du Toit's first love. His first works in bronze and wood were directly influenced by his paintings. The bronze sculpture to be unveiled in the city centre of Cape Town tomorrow will be set on a lare concrete plinth with an interrupted long concrete Rock Girl bench around one side.

Design Indaba’s involvement in the installation of Paul du Toit’s “Into Tomorrow” sculpture opposite Riebeeck Square has its origins in the Bow Wow Competition that ran at Design Indaba Expo 2009. Fifty “Puppy” sculptures, an iconic design for Magis, were donated by ID Solutions, decorated by a roster of local designers and auctioned off for charity. The proceeds were earmarked by the Design Indaba Trust to support a suitable public project.

Fast forward to 2014, when Design Indaba was approached by Lorette du Toit and Sean Weldon to help with the installation of the sculpture and the accompanying upgrade to Riebeeck Square.

Du Toit was a longtime friend and supporter of Design Indaba, and we followed his career closely. We felt it as a personal loss when he passed away. He hosted our international speakers during Design Indaba Conference, exhibited at Design Indaba Expo, and even made one of the Bow Wow sculptures for that competition in 2009 (Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo ended up buying it and still has it in his home.)

With Du Toit we share the same spirit of optimism, outreach and creative entrepreneurialism. He cared about the city and its fabric, and so do we.

We thought this was a wonderful way to spend the money we raised six years ago. It honours his memory and extends our own mandate of using design to create change. Especially since this year we are running our Make. Change. campaign, which exhorts our fellow creatives to get out there and find a way to fix, improve, elevate or reinvent something to make a difference in someone’s life. We think Paul would have approved.

We chatted to Lorette du Toit about the project:

Paul and I were married for almost 26 years. Since 2003 we worked together: I took care of interactions with collectors, galleries, organising exhibitions, cataloguing works; with Paul creating, always busy with something creative, but also very involved in the bigger picture of where he was going as an artist.

I continue working with Paul's work, and I have a responsibility to grow his legacy.

When did he design this sculpture and bench? And did he know before he died that it would be installed in Riebeeck Square?

He made the sculpture “Into tomorrow” in 2002. He always envisaged it enlarged and in a big public space. After he passed away I decided to start the process to see whether we could fulfill that dream. The benches were designed by architect Mark Thomas, using a line in one of Paul's paintings and enlarging it to scale. To him it was important to project the energy that was always in Paul's line work, rather than a straight bench running down the length of Shortmarket Street.
The mosaic inlay was done by Lovell Friedman, taking inspiration from Paul's use of bold colours and incorporating his style into the mosaic work.

What was the significance of this sculpture to Paul?

Sculpture was always Paul's first love. This piece signifies togetherness, collaboration, and “into tomorrow” – leaning upon one another.

Was public art an important aspect of being an artist to him?

It is huge affirmation for an artist to have their work placed publicly, and not an easy process.

He was extremely honoured when he was commissioned to create “That's me on the corner” that's on the corner of Long and Strand Streets, and his bench at Prestwich Place for Rock Girl. He always dreamed of having a significant piece in Cape Town, and would be extremely proud of this achievement. We always made a point of viewing pieces by his favourite artists in cities that we visited: the magnificent Dubuffet piece in Chase Plaza in NYC, the Miro at La Defence in Paris, and many, many more. He also loved the fact that these pieces weren't only for the paying public that visit the big museums, but for the public in general that could get to interact with these amazing pieces without having to pay for the privilege of interacting and enjoying these masterpieces. He always believed that art should be accessible to everyone.

What made you approach Design Indaba to be involved?

Paul was involved in the Bow Wow project initiated by Sean Weldon in 2009. The proceeds of the pieces auctioned were earmarked for a public sculpture in Cape Town. Sean made the contact with Ravi and requested that it was used towards this project.

This project has a second and third phase. Stage two is telling the history of the square in conjunction with the the Bo-Kaap community in a wonderful way that we are busy conceptualising with them. This will enhance Riebeeck Square even more, making it a unique little visual oasis in the city centre.

Phase three is placing a sister-sculpture cast in concrete in Langa, also with Rock Girl benches. This will connect the CBD to the most historic black township in Cape Town and its vibrant cultural community; and hopefully encourage people to visit a place they might not have thought of visiting before...

Paul du Toit's sculpture and bench  will be unveiled pubically at 11am on 28 February, on the corner of Bree and Shortmarket Streets in Cape Town.