Without having been commissioned, a group of local visual artists have been paying homage to frontline workers with some impressive artwork on the street.
The art in a public space has turned into an ongoing random act of kindness campaign for workers such as truck drivers, nurses and doctors in the frontline of the COVID-19 battle front. After an incident at the borders where truck drivers revealed their outcry, a group of artists decided to set up the public art on the route from Tlokweng border this past weekend.
They painted live truck drivers and cheerful messages in bright colours, motivating the front line workers who have been feeling unappreciated lately. Their next stop this week was Princess Marina Hospital where the artists continued to honour and appreciate nurses and all health care professionals with live paintings just near the traffic circle.
The gesture offered a moment of quiet reprieve for health care workers and anyone else who could benefit. As people passed by, they had the time to explore a work of art with the artists in a guided reflection. With the emphasis of masks the visuals drew viewers to the fresh, clear message depicted in the paintings. Even spending some time in the tranquil public space with that kind of art in sight just for a few seconds, it surely provided some break from life’s complexities.
In an interview with Arts & Culture, one of the artists Kenny Ketshotseng said the mission of their movement is to thank all front liners who have been playing a vital role during this pandemic. “Our plan as artists is to show gratitude through paintings because they are permanent. After this we want to meet up as artists and host an exhibition, sort of like a COVID-19 artists movement,” he said. He also said that everyone is welcome to help them because as artists they struggle financially. “Any organisation that is interested in helping our movement is more than welcome. We want to do a lot of paintings, murals and exhibitions to send messages to the people,” he said. Ketshotseng further reiterated that the reason they chose public art was to convey the message about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Public art communicates information faster because people make stops to take pictures. We do this in a public space so that people can recognise us,” he highlighted.
Ketshotseng further indicated that they just won’t stop with truck drivers and nurses, but they will appreciate other front line workers such as security personnel. “The reason we started with truck drivers is because I was not happy with how people treated them. They were happy after seeing what we did for them,” he added.
Ketshotseng said the artworks he did in the public space would be exhibited and then sold. He said he would continue pushing the passion since he loves what he does.
“People stop for questions and picture moments, cars hoot and this for me show that we are not alone in this. We want to help, showcase our love and preserve our history through these artworks,” he said.