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SunStar: A Beacon of Hope for the future

Twenty years into a new democracy and almost a year since the passing of global icon and former South African President Nelson Mandela, Sun International would like to encourage Capetonians and visitors to the City to express their hope for the country’s future. The dramatic “SunStar” sculpture stands on the historic Signal Hill in Cape Town, overlooking both the City and Robben Island, as a reminder of South Africa’s greatest story and a shining symbol of hope for the country’s future. Sun International has sponsored the materials used in the design and construction of the structure.

About the SunStar

The SunStar sculpture was conceptualised and designed by Cape Town artist and founder of the Robben Island Art Company & Trust (RIACT), Christopher Swift. It is also a showcase project for Cape Town: World Design Capital 2014. The SunStar is a temporary art installation that utilises much of the original fence that once surrounded Robben Island in its construction.

Community, environment and sustainability

The SunStar project is closely aligned to Sun International’s commitment to community, environment and sustainability, and we are very pleased to be associated with its symbolism and message.

Signal Hill was chosen as the site for the SunStar sculpture because of its impressive views over the city and to ensure that both locals and tourists have easy access to this commemorative work. Signal Hill has a shared history amongst all Capetonians and is easily accessible by road just a few minutes outside of the City Centre, with uninterrupted views of Robben Island, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and the city. It is hoped that being able to stand beneath the SunStar with spectacular views of both the City of Cape Town and Robben Island in the distance will give people a powerful incentive for contemplation, reflection and conversation about our future.

About the artist

The SunStar has been created and built by Cape Town-based artist Christopher Swift, founder of the Robben Island Art Company & Trust (RIACT). The installation, which will be illuminated at night, is environmentally friendly because of its use of 4 000 strip LED lights, which have been repurposed from a previous installation. Swift has previously won Spier Contemporary Arts Awards and the Michaelis Award for his work as an artist.

More about the structure

The SunStar structure is in the form of an eight-point star, with the wiring from the Robben Island Fence filling the internal areas of the sphere. This historic material has been given an artistic casing and will be surrounded by a metal frame depicting the sun’s rays, coming together to form an eight-pointed star. The sphere will be lit at night using solar-powered LED lighting, repurposed from other art installations. The sphere in the centre of the sculpture has a radius of 6.4m and the sculpture is supported by scaffolding that blends with the contour of the sculpture.

The project involves the construction of a star-shape out of aluminium trusses that have been founded using a ground anchorage system, rather than conventional concrete foundation bases, as conventional concrete foundations would have a negative environment impact on the site.

About the Robben Island Art Company & Trust (RIACT)

Robben Island Art Company & Trust (RIACT) was established by local artist Christopher Swift, who received permission to remove the discarded Robben Island fence – the original fence that surrounded the prison while former President Nelson Mandela was held there – and store it for use in art projects. The Robben Island Fence Project is now responsible for the fence materials and creates artefacts from it for sale.

This is done with the idea that creating artefacts from the Robben Island fence does not only generate jobs and impart skills to disadvantaged South Africans, it also means that the original fencing from the Robben Island prison is helping to create jobs in a new South Africa, rather than rusting away in a landfill.