An old and abandoned communications tower in the centre of Johannesburg has found a new life as an uplifting work of public art for the local community, and the neighbourhood was cleaned up at the same time.
At more than 20m high, the recently completed iThemba Tower, situated in Troyeville, Johannesburg, is made from an astonishing 7 000 recycled plastic bottles that were collected by local scholars and waste collectors. Each of them was filled with a “message in a bottle” and a small light for illuminating the tower at night.
“The project involved schoolkids and local waste collectors to gather the bottles and then fill many of them with messages of hope” says street artist R1, who is the main mover behind the stunning iThemba Tower which is built around a defunct communications pylon.
Bushveld Labs, a design and engineering specialist, installed LED lights in the bottles, so the tower becomes a beacon of light at night.
R1 believes the project breaks down existing boundaries and inspires engagement of school kids, artists, grassroot community members and businesses in the critical issue of plastic recycling.
One message inside the bottle reads “I hope to be a doctor,” another “I hope we clean our world and protect our nature,” and another, by Sanele Simelane, states: “We all need a place we can call home; love, respect and protection is all we need in this planet.”
To see the iThemba Tower yourself, visit the Spaza Art Gallery garden in Troyeville, Johannesburg.