Art Series

Chrisél Attewell

Memories of the Leonardo, 2020
Memories of the Leomardo

Since my arrival in Johannesburg in 2017, I have created an archive of my exploration of the city through the medium of printmaking.  The one thing that always stuck me about the city’s energy, is how dynamic and everchanging it is. With new development, and decay of the old, I have found the city to be in a constant state of flux, its boundaries are forever mutating.

In documenting my experience of the city, I  placed my focus on construction sites – the places that embody the changing rhythm of the city on a very real and physical level. When navigating through the city, I would stop at construction sites that I pass on my daily routes and leave a copper plate on the site for a specific period of time.  With normal work proceeding on the site, these copper plates will then transform with the forces applied to them on the construction sites. Some plates will be destroyed on site, whilst others suffer only a few scratches. Almost as innocent bystanders, these plates capture the energy, memory and history of the city in a specific time and place.

When I was commissioned to make artworks for the Leonardo, I started the work whilst the building was still under construction.  Once on site, I started moving large copper sheets around the construction site to capture the activity on the site.

The plates were scratched, dented and transformed by actions of man and machine.  Both the copper plates, now displayed behind the reception desk of the Leonardo building, and the prints created from these plates, tells the story of the building. It not only tells about the creation and history of the building, but it also honours the workers.  People with often talk about the Leonardo for being the tallest building in Africa, or about it luxuries and delicacies, but with these works, I would like to express the importance of the people who worked on the site to build such an iconic building in the Johannesburg cityscape. These works are a documentation of the energies of the workers and labourers captured in a moment in time.

Chrisel Attewell-Memories of the Leonardo

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