Recognition of the value of public art by her adopted city, Johannesburg, has excited contemporary artist Hannelie Coetzee. Coetzee likes to make her mark — spectacularly. The most visible of her works is the recently unveiled The Ndzundza/Nzunza Portrait (the alternative spellings come from the nearby community), commissioned by City Property. Her hair-inspired 10-storey artwork hangs on 28 Melle Street, Braamfontein. "I’m grateful to people in the property market who have become patrons of the arts," she says. All Coetzee’s projects start with research and this commission came at the end of 2017, giving her time to play around with ideas. She visited Melle Street to discover what had happened there in the past, her richest vein of source material. Coetzee says she questions the purpose of art as a mere commentary on societal ills and prefers using it to participate in life, solve problems, connect people and ignite dialogues. She teams up with either scientists, architects or othe...

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