Theme: Future Thinking

Arts prizes are usually used to award aesthetic beauty, and we’re all for that. But when a call-out is made to come up with artistic concepts that could have a social impact on communities, we’re even more intrigued. The inaugural Social Impact Arts Prize, run by the Rupert Art Foundation and the Rupert Museum, called for arts-based activities, projects or programmes that could affect social change in the Graaff-Reinet area, in fields ranging from education and employment to community, environment, technology and direct arts. “Artists have always lived precarious lives, and are equipped to creatively confront the problems life throws at them. When our humanity is under attack, then we look to art-making, art-thinking, art projects and creative practices to lead the way. The Social Impact Arts Prize awards this leadership,” says Roelof van Wyk, who, together with Hanneli Rupert, directs the programme. The competition was open to artists, architects, engineers, landscapers, environmentalists, and other visionaries, and three final projects were selected as the winners. “The plan is to start production as soon as we are able to travel,” says van Wyk of the winning projects that will take three to six months to complete. Hello Wolk by studioMAS and Gustav Praekelt is a cloud-shaped artwork that will collect water from the atmosphere to water a garden that lies beneath. “It creates poetic awareness of the life-giving importance of water, whilst also connecting the local community to the benefits of Internet access,” van Wyk explains. The artwork, inspired by Graaff-Reinet’s water scarcity, will be symbolic of the digital cloud, and will provide free WiFi while acting as a hub for community-based information. Here, young women from the town will be taught to code so that they can update the cloud with health, education and literacy content. Tears Become Rain by David Brits and Raiven Hansmann is a mass choir programme that was also conceived as a response to the climate crisis in the region. The duo is assembling a choir, made up of Graaff-Reinet’s diverse community, that will come together to sing for rain. Uniting people while instilling hope, it draws on the rich choral history of the area, using song as a tool to educate. The narrative follows the journey of a young San boy during a time of drought, where his tears of grief turn into rain and restore abundance to the world. PLANTed by Lorenzo Nassimbeni, Andrew Brose and Casper Lundie is a public project which addresses the loss of local knowledge of medicinal plants within the communities of Graaff-Reinet. It recognises the cultural practice of the use of medicinal plants in the area, and looks to support and acknowledge this through an architectural intervention. The project engages local groups in the creation of a medicinal plant garden, or plant library, named The Good Garden, which exhibits the plant knowledge of the community, and brings to light this concealed aspect of culture and place.

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.