Mural welcomed in the city

Cape Towns largest mural went up in Harrington Street last week.

Cape Town’s largest public art mural was completed last week, and is on show to the public in Harrington Street.

The mural, done by Belgian street artist Bart Smeets, will act as an extension and a billboard for the third International Public Art Festival (IPAF), which takes place in Salt River in February next year.

The mural reflects the IPAF 2019 theme of Generation Next, which features a child, a dog and aviation.

Baz-Art, the non-profit organisation based in Green Point that runs the (IPAF, has collaborated with the Flanders Embassy in Pretoria and with Flanders State-of-the-Art in Belgium to bring Bart Smeets to Cape Town to create this massive public artwork.

Alexandre Tilmans, founder of Baz-Art, said street art and public arts have been forgotten in the city centre, and the mural was an opportunity to revive this form of art in the city centre.

“We had different options in town but Harrington Street was chosen as all the neighbours welcomed the piece.”

To secure this landmark mural, Baz-Art worked with property owners and tenants to enlist their agreement for the artwork.

“Should you be walking in Harrington Street, you will see people stopping by and looking at the bright colourful wall, which definitely needed refurbishment.

“Mural art is also a powerful way to share positive messages to the population, showcase creativity for the eyes of everyone and not only gallery visitors.”

Bart Smeets, better known in the art world as Smates, studied graphic design.

He has always been a fan of realistic drawings and paintings, so after graduating, he followed painting classes for about two years and that helped him to become the artist he is today. At the age of 18, Smates started with graffiti and since September 2013 he has been a full-time street artist.

Mr Tilmans said Bart Smeets became a full-time muralist five years ago, and had since been doing walls in Belgium, across Europe and other countries in the world but never set foot in Africa.

“It was a great opportunity for him to come to Cape Town and discover a little bit of our country.”

Baz-Art is working towards bringing Bart Smeets back to Cape Town again so that he can create a subsequent masterpiece for IPAF in Salt River next February.

Mr Tilmans said the mural was endorsed by the City of Cape Town and will be up for a minimum of two years.

Baz-Art, a non-profit organisation dedicated to using art for the benefit of the public, recognised that despite the talent pool, Africa did not have a flagship international event that gave artists the opportunity to showcase their skills.

Baz-Art collaborated with the IPAF community and initiated the first IPAF in Salt River in February 2017. Through IPAF over the past two years, Baz.Art and more than 70 local and international artists have transformed the streets of Salt River into an open-air national art gallery featuring over 100 public artworks.