Art & Design, Giving Back, Story of the Day|November 10, 2011 1:41 pm

Painting Hope in the Dark

Faces like this one will be painted

A young white artist from Pietermaritzburg will venture into one of the country’s most infamous townships, living amongst the locals until he has completed his latest project.

Anthony Kirkwood, aka Gasak has been creating graffiti murals for about 5 years and currently studies at the Style Design College in Durban. His style ranges from the funky to the ultra-realistic and his works have adorned everything from shacks to hostels, homes and cars.

But what makes a white art student from Durbs suddenly decide to go live in one of KZN’s most crime-ridden communities? Gasak has a conscience and believes strongly in the healing and transformative nature of art. His plan is to paint the faces of 5 influential South Africans on the walls of RDP houses overlooking KwaMashu in the hope of bringing hope and inspiration to those that see them.
‘The reason I want to do this is to add colour to what society calls a dull wall and to paint really important icons of South Africans that have created a change and have been the best at what they do in the country we live in and so I choose to help make the change in my way by inspiring.’ Kirkwood explains on his blog, ‘My plan is to portray graffiti as an art and not a crime and to show the high risk areas we go through to paint positive art to give hope to people that are less fortunate in this cruel world.’

Already the vibrant colour of Gasak’s work has touched some murky spaces. He painted a mural on the wall of the newly opened Jes Foord Rape Crisis Centre at St Augustine’s Hospital. His murals also adorn the SAPS K9 unit kennels in Shongweni and various crèches and schools in other local townships. ‘I am continually looking for opportunities to showcase my art work to leave a mark in history and add colour to a dull wall in society,’ he says.

Angels in unlikely places

The people Gasak has chosen to paint as his ‘Faces to Inspire’ project are Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Charlize Theron, Duncan MacNeilie and Johnny Clegg. Each mural will have a height of 2.4 meters.
‘By staying there as a white South African I’m going to face numerous obstacles as one of those obstacles is looking at breaking all racial barriers in one of South Africa’s highest crime rated area,’ Kirkwood says, ‘Painting the iconic Figures, inspiring people and adding hope to a crime spot will be the only thing I will benefit from this project.’

Once this venture is complete Anthony hopes to talk to others about his KwaMashu experience and how his art has taken him to extraordinary lengths. Follow Gazak’s progress on his blog or via Facebook or click here to hear his interview with DJ Fresh on 5FM.

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