Vandalism can’t break the spirit of Assemble

A new version of Assemble has been put back in its original location in Beach Road, Strand.

After being vandalised on Saturday March 19, Assemble, a sculpture forming part of a display of public art along Beach Road, Strand, has now been replaced and is back on display in its original location where it’s been on showcase since its installation in April last year.

The artwork, created by locally based artist Lionel Smit, can now once again be enjoyed by beach walkers and passers-by on the corners of Sarel Cilliers and Beach roads.

Monique Bredell, director of the Lionel Smit Studio, tells Bolander the extent of the damage to the original sculpture would have necessitated a lengthy repair process. “We had a different ‘edition’ of the same sculpture that had already been cast. It would have been too time-consuming to fix the damaged one, as we wanted to get it back as soon as possible,” she explains.

The original sculpture suffered structural damage after a vandal forcefully and persistently attempted to dismount it from its base (video can be seen on Facebook), until the sculpture is seen falling to the ground.

In preparing the new Assemble for public display, Lionel was inspired to capture the act of vandalism. “Lionel decided to have the colour similar to the original piece but added some red paint on the areas that were damaged to symbolise the vandalism that took place,” added Ms Bredell.

The original sculpture has not been discarded as a damaged piece, but will rather now, according to Ms Bredell be given a second lease on life and serve a new purpose where it’s been put to other use in the studio.

According to Ms Bredell, the studio as well as the community, is happy to have the landmark artwork back on display. “We have received a lot of positive feedback from the community surrounding its installation.”

Another party delighted with the return of the artwork is local Ward 83 councillor, Carl Punt. “We are pleased that the artwork is back in its place, and we are excitedly waiting for more of these artworks to come and beautify the beach area.

“I believe the public art will contribute to making the Strand an attractive tourism destination. The installation of more art is just one of the ways in which we can make the Strand a better, more appealing, and tourist-friendly beach” he adds, while mentioning his dream to see Strand Beach become one of the top 3 tourist attractions in the Western Cape.

According to Strand police, a suspect was apprehended by Strand Neighbourhood Watch and handed over to the police. Police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Nico Beukes, confirmed a case of malicious damage to property was opened and is being investigated.

“There was a suspect taken in for questioning, but due to insufficient evidence, the suspect could not be positively linked to the crime and wasn’t charged. The investigation continues.”

Anyone with information can report it to Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

Set in a serene spot along Beach Road, Strand, Assemble has become a popular artistic landmark.