The University of Pretoria (UP) is now home to a spectacular 13-metre sculptural public artwork – the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) THINK Bench, a contemporary functional piece designed to celebrate and encourage innovative and collaborative thinking.
This ten-tonne concrete bench, unveiled in August, has been installed on UP’s Hatfield campus. Appropriately located between the Merensky Library and the Student Centre, this thoughtfully interactive sculpture can host more than 20 students, seated.
RMB wanted to find a way for young talent to congregate and contribute through having conversations that matter. The bench was designed by artist Louis Olivier and his team from the Workhorse Bronze Foundry. Being a bench for students, it was imperative that young artists were involved in the creation, hence two assistant artists – Allen Laing and Nkhensani Rihlapfu – being mentored throughout the process. The bench spells out the word ‘THINK’ from one side, while another perspective reveals life-sized human silhouettes in different thinking poses. It acts as a reflective reminder to students passing by that sometimes one needs to change one’s perspective to think differently, reinforcing the bank’s brand ethos of ‘innovative and solutionist thinking’.
UP became a natural partner for this project, especially when RMB received a thorough proposal from the Student Representative Council requesting a bench and elaborating on its potentially powerful role as ‘a safe space for students to think fearlessly and collaboratively debate and share solutions’.
The bench at UP is one of a greater edition commissioned by RMB, the first of which was installed on the RMB Think Precinct at its Sandton headquarters in Johannesburg.
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