Cape Town Public Art Competition Winner Announced

The Western Cape Government:



The Western Cape Government is proud to announce that the winner of the Public Art Competition, is Jacques Coetzer, with his rendition of celebrating 20 years of Democracy and Freedom with ‘Open House’, an art piece that sets out to celebrate public engagement, diversity, and the openness of democracy and public spaces.

Jacques Coetzer’s winning design

Hailing from RiebeekKasteel, South African born Jacques Coetzer, has 21 years’ experience as a professional artist, using elements of tradition, music and performance in his repertoire.

‘Open House’ is a multi-use public space, designed to open up possibility – a stage for artistic performance, a speakers’ corner and a tree-top bench where anyone can sit and eat their lunch. The structure is colourful and durable, inviting the attention of passers-by.Like democracy, Open House is a space for public engagement, of various kinds, whether live music, theatre, public exhibition or just a place to sit and watch the world go by on Long Street. The steel and corrugated metal construction is positioned to be in direct conversation with the street traffic, the passing pedestrians and the piazza in Lower Dorp Street behind it.

Open House embraces visual art, performance art and celebrates architecture whilst stimulating different ways of expressing public art. The inviting red colour is a marker for engagement, passion and expression – something which captivates the spirit of Cape Town and the Western Cape in this year of 2014 World Design Capital.

The Western Cape Government is delighted with the response to the competition.We received an overwhelming 85 submissions since the launch in August 2014.

We thank the panel for their commitment and their wisdom. The panel comprised:

  • Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport
  • Ms Marilyn Martin, Senior Scholar, UCT Michaelis School of Fine Art; former Director of the SA National Gallery and Director of Art Collections at Iziko Museums
  • Ms Beverley Schafer, Member of the Legislature of the Western Cape, former Ward 54 Councillor for Tourism, Events and Marketing in the City of Cape Town advocating Public Art
  • Ms Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, CEO: The Cape Town Partnership, key player in Cape Town’s Central City Development Strategy and Taipei World Design Capital 2016 Advisory member
  • Mr Zayd Minty, Manager of Arts and Culture at City of Cape Town, former driver of Cape Town’s Design and Innovation District
  • Associate Professor Jay Pather, Director: Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) and curator of Infecting the City Public Art Festival
  • Professor Jo Noero, architect and former Director of the UCT School of Architecture and Planning

In addition, Dr Laurine Platzky, Deputy Director-General for Strategic Programmes in the Department of the Premier convened the panel and Ms Ayesha Augustus provided the logistical support.

Meeting regularly, on a voluntary basis, the panel selected sixteen finalists before agreeing unanimously to Coetzer’s winning submission,using the criteria ofpublic engagement, innovation, integration, social understanding, longevity, expression and potential impact, as described in the brief.

It has been an exciting journey for the panel, involving spirited debate and thorough process to ensure that the best submission was selected.

The Western Cape Government would also like to thank the public for their comments, each was well received.

The judging panel is confident that Open House will be a platform and safe space for all citizens to enjoy, including visitors to our City.

As panelist Marilyn Martin noted “The winning entry has answered all the criteria set out in the competition brief, and it has gone beyond, thereby breaking new ground with regard to public art in Cape Town. ‘Open House’ encompasses visual art, performance and architecture and encourages new ways of thinking about public art – it is a marker that will visually activate and transform the spaces around it, but it is also an activating mechanism for public engagement.”

In the words of another panellist, Jay Pather:

“The Open House public art work is deceptively simple. Rich with possibilities, it is more a generator of ideas and a marker than monolithic public sculpture. As a contemporary public art work the artist in his concept acknowledges the presence of a variety of contemporary subjectivities especially in a fractured and growing democracy. It does not seem to dictate any one thing.

In a space of rapid consumption and commerce the work slows you down, acting as a conduit for a range of activity, from simply hanging out to active, creative participation.

It is both open and a house, a space for open ended invention and a space of support and protection through validating and anchoring possibilities for all kinds of expression by its very presence.

It serves to instigate and ignite a range of participation from talks and addresses to performance, film screenings and temporary exhibitions. As a generator of ideas this red construct excites and entices with its brevity and boldness but its child-like appearance is disarmingly charming and creates a sense of vulnerability. In this respect one could say that it is more humble metaphor rather than a loud proclamation for the backbone of our country: in that somewhere in our collective nation’s centre lies a core and a spine on which anything can be grafted. The sturdy and impactful will remain in the hearts and minds of people, the superfluous will wash away. How it is finally realized will depend on our citizens. This is in effect the beauty and truth of this work.”

Open House will be constructed over the next five months and is scheduled to be officially inaugurated on 27 April 2015 when our young democracy attains its ‘majority’.