What started out in 2013 as a request for a brand-building, sculptural intervention with a modest budget and a single-season timeline, has evolved into a project of grand proportions – characterised by a spirit of collaboration, learning and fluid adaptability.
At the time Rand Merchant Bank, together with Teresa Lizamore, RMB’s visual arts advisor/curator, called for a functional sculptural bench to inspire both the staff at RMB and talented young adults and students, to think differently. Although the project brief appeared typical for a sculpture of its particular size and nature, it was hiding a golden vein of the unusual, out-of-the-box and extraordinary.
Louis Olivier, known in the industry for unique sculptural pieces, and with whom RMB had worked on previous commissions, was invited to explore the possibilities of a interactive seating sculpture to fit their then marketing campaign around THINK. The decision was to install the first of a series of this interactive sculpture in the “Think Precinct” at Merchant Place and then on university campuses thereby inspiring students, aspiring economists, bankers and above all – THINKERS! Olivier was briefed to collaborate on this project with a number of young student artists of his choosing.
From its inception the project burst out from one cocoon after the other, and kept growing in size, complexity, impact and vision. The prospect of unleashing innovative energy on university campuses around the country, spurred the Workhorse Foundry collaboration of artists to dream bigger than what they and RMB were initially prepared for, and soon they had drawn together a panoply of professionals; including mould makers, computer modelling experts, dedicated craftsman, an entire bronze foundry, an industrial-scale concrete casting yard, and an upcoming film director and glass-working specialists.
For every party involved in the project there have been challenges, firsts, new discoveries and opportunities for growth and learning. Despite moments where it would have seemed reasonable for everyone to cut their losses and throw in the towel, RMB has stood by Olivier and his team, deepening their commitment to the project, strengthening their resolve in the face of ever-extending delivery dates and seeing the mighty art project through to its completion.
RMB have embraced the fact that the THINK bench has surpassed its original mandate of producing a sculptural bench, and stand by it as a project that encompasses elements of skills exchanges, research and development alongside the creation of a unique and stimulating functional sculpture.