Stepping up to the plate(s)

After I saw these plates on a concrete pillar under the traffic-laden Joe Slovo off-ramp in the Maboneng district, I started harassing everybody to find out who made them. The super helpful (and thoroughly harassed) Bheki Dube, the Maboneng neighbourhood concierge, finally got me a first name and Google assisted with the rest. Her name is Julie Lovelace and I think she rocks!

With charming fairytale-type drawings and flowery finishes, the plates seem whimsical, playful. Yet if you look closely, you'll notice the images of guns and tanks – and of course, the verses from Lupe Fiasco’s Little Weapon. The song is about children and guns, specifically child soldiers (it’s a powerful piece of poetry, even if you don’t like hip hop).

The installation, which was inspired by the Immigrant Movement International’s call for submissions in 2011, is one of my favourite public art works in Joburg. In 2012, after a second call for work, Julie added the angels and white clouds with the words 'to the unknown migrants' and 'we are all immigrants'. "The angels in my mind are metaphors for migrants and immigrants: where do they belong, where have they flown or floated from, where are they going, how many borders have they crossed and how many miles have they travelled?" she says.

More about Julie
Julie studied shoe design in the UK in the 1980s, but became interested in ceramics when she took her kids to pottery class – and now the rest is history.

Here’s a bit about her work in general:
The aim of my studio practice is to celebrate the dichotomy of make believe and reality. I find particular interest in working with nostalgic images, as the past is often idealised and revered. My work has strong ties with the innocence of childhood juxtaposed with current world situations.”

Julie is currently participating in the Tom Waits for No Man exhibition, which is on until 29 May 2013 at the UJ Art Gallery, so go have a look and check out the plates in Maboneng too!

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