Sculpture reflects community’s hope for its future

The Ship of Ubuntu, a community art project, honours the fishermen in the area, and is a symbol of hope for the future of the people of Vrygrond, Capricorn and Overcome Heights.

It’s called The Ship of Ubuntu, and it’s a collaboration between the youth of Vrygrond, Capricorn, Overcome Heights and Mexican street artist Libre Gutierrez.

The sculpture stands on Prince George Drive at the entrance to the Capricorn shopping centre as a tribute to the legacy of the fishermen who first inhabited this area and fed their families and the community from the sea.

Mr Guiterrez said he adopted the idea one of his students had to give four eyes to the sculpture – two looking towards the future and two looking to the present.

The sculpture is a man’s face, and a boat – and the fishing village of old is represented by an assortment of little bird houses.

“The bird houses will not only become homes to real living little animals, but the process of creating them made the youth taking part in the project imagine their own future ideal homes,” Mr Guiterrez said.

The entire structure is made from recycled materials, and it is Gutierrez’s second art project in the area.

It took three weeks to build the sculpture with 40 members of the different communities taking part, volunteering long working hours, day and night. It took another full week to put up.

Mr Gutierrez worked with the Sozo Foundation – a Cape Flats-based non-profit – and had the support of the Vrygrond Community Development Forum.

The project was sponsored by EDvance, a teacher’s preparation programme at San Francisco State University. EDvance has worked in community creches with local NGO True North for the
past seven years (“It’s our duty to keep them safe,” False Bay Echo, July 7).

Participants said they wanted the sculpture to represent the beauty, talents, history and future of the community of Vrygrond.

Sozo Foundation facilitators Randall Daniels and Keenan Mowers helped the youth taking part in the project develop the practical skills they needed to complete the sculpture.

“It was amazing to see this come together from an idea to reality and it was so good for the kids to be involved in something this important,” Mr Mowers said.

The foundation’s Elana Cuyler said she had seen young people “come alive” during the project.

“They are so proud to have something to show on the outside of their community, for others to see what they are capable of. It’s shown them they can add to the beauty of life and of Cape Town.”

Last year, Lygia Stebbing, from EDvance, and her team of students worked with Mr Mowers and Mr Gutierrez to create a 10-day mural-painting programme in front of Vrygrond’s taxi rank. Ms Stebbing hopes to create an exchange programme for children from Vrygrond to visit San Francisco.

Mr Gutierrez works in poor communities around the world, designing community-based art projects. He said The Ship of Ubuntu showed how different minds with the same goal could achieve anything.