Lotto Sculpture-on-Campus Project

In September 2009, the UFS received a generous grant from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF) to develop and implement the Lotto Sculpture-on-Campus Project.
The project has allowed the University to commission artists to create a unique and permanent public sculpture collection on the Bloemfontein Campus of the university.

Its key focus is to set up diverse and site-specific sculptures that promote a greater understanding, respect and appreciation of cultural differences and installs a sense of belonging for all.
The project has been inspired by the creation of an array of humanised and humanising spaces, designed to enrich the educational and multicultural experience of students by stimulating intercultural dialogue and by providing a setting for historical discourse between past and future.

The project serves as a concrete reflection of the vision of the university, that is, to be an excellent, equitable, innovative and engaged university.

Artists and artworks

Over the course of two years, the project has had the privilege of acquiring and commissioning several artworks – most by leading South African sculptors – that have been positioned at different locations on campus.


  • Willem Boshoff, Thinking Stone (installed in front of the Main Building next to the Red Square)

Description: Willem Boshoff, Thinking Stone  Keywords: Willem Boshoff, Thinking Stone

One of South Africa’s most established and experienced artists in the field of public sculpture, Willem Boshoff, was commissioned to produce a major sculpture for the core of the campus.
Boshoff is well known for his innovative and his conceptual pieces.
He has done numerous public art pieces nationally and aboard including commissions from the University of Johannesburg, the Constitutional Court, the Mpumalanga Legislature in Nelspruit and South Africa House at Trafalgar Square in London.

His work is deeply involved in relationships and social interaction, and is generally focused on bringing about conversation.
The sculpture he created for the University is installed in the area between the H van der Merwe Scholtz Hall and the Main Building.
Boshoff’s work comprises a 32-ton polished black granite rock that was quarried at Boschpoort Granite in Belfast, Mpumalanga.

The rock has engravings that resemble the prehistoric rock engravings (also known as petroglyphs) of Driekopseiland (a prehistoric rock art site situated close to Kimberley).
Added to the engravings are sandblasted inscriptions in six languages with verses and quotes that refer to “rock” and inspire thought and completion.
Boshoff has done other works of a similar nature, including Children of the stars, situated at the Cradle of Humankind.


  • Brett Murray, Seeds (installed on the white wall on the western side of the Thakaneng Bridge)

Description: Brett Murray, Seeds Keywords: Brett Murray, Seeds

Satirical artist Brett Murray has also been commissioned to create an artwork for the University collection.
Murray is well known for his humorous and bold artworks and he has done public artworks for the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the University of Cape Town.

The artwork that he is producing for the University comprises 52 laser-cut steel heads in profile entitled Seeds.
The artwork celebrates the youth and the multi-cultural context of the University with the symbolic intention of saluting sameness and difference in an environment where the seeds of knowledge and learning are sown.

The artwork will be installed on the white wall facing the road on the western side of Thakaneng Bridge.


  • Noriah Mabasa, Unity is power: Let us be united (situated at the Computer Laboratory at Thakaneng Bridge)

Description: Noriah Mabasa, Unity is power:  Let us be united  Keywords: Noriah Mabasa, Unity is power:  Let us be united

The Noriah Mabasa sculptural piece is one of the first of the nine sculptures to arrive in October 2010.
Mabasa is the only Venda female artist that has been recognised for carving wooden sculptures and her work is well respected nationally and internationally.
In 1983, she started making clay figures, which brought her recognition, but in 1994 when she decided to start carving in wood, she was seen as a rebel by traditionalists and her fellow male artists.

Since then she has received the Order of the Baobab (Silver) award from former President Thabo Mbeki, which is the highest accolade ever to have been received by a visual artist in South Africa.
Mabasa is often inspired and develops her sculptures from dreams that she explains as being ‘messages’ that she depicts in her art work.

Mabasa’s sculpture for the University collection is a three-metre high wooden piece made out of wild-fig wood.
The sculpture piece entitled Unity is power: Let us be united consists of several grouped figures and celebrates the coming together of many diverse people.


  • Azwifarwi Ragimana, Seven utilitarian sculptural pieces namely Baboon, Flying fish, Fish bench, Adam & Eve, Olive bench, Natural flare 1 and Natural flare 2 (situated in the garden quad behind the West Block)

Description: Azwifarwi Ragimana, Baboon, Flying fish, Fish bench, Adam & Eve,  Olive bench, Natural flare 1 and Natural flare 2  Keywords: Azwifarwi Ragimana, Baboon, Flying fish, Fish bench, Adam & Eve,  Olive bench, Natural flare 1 and Natural flare 2

Azwifarwi Ragimana is an artist from the Allubimbi village in the Limpopo Province. He started sculpting under the guidance of Simon Mikosi at the age of fifteen.
Ragimana explains that he receives his inspiration from his ancestors and the spirits and all preparations for his sculptures are done in his mind – these preparations include measurements and proportions to the piece of wood that he has found.

Ragimana worked as part of an artist-in-residency at Gallery 181 in Johannesburg for nine months to create seven utilitarian sculptures for the University collection.
One of the works that he has produced is an allegorical seat entitled Adam & Eve.
This piece is made of indigenous olive wood and portrays the biblical subjects Adam and Eve, but Ragimana has Africanised his subjects so that we can identify with them.

Ragimana also produced a striking bench made out of olive wood and another made out of African wattle wood in the form of a baboon.
These works were installed in the garden quad behind the West block of the Main Building to create seating for the many students who congregate in the area, but it also gives students the opportunity to interact with the sculptures.


  • Thomas Kubayi, Walking fish (situated at the Red Square close to the fountain)

Description: Thomas Kubayi, Walking fish  Keywords: Thomas Kubayi, Walking fish

Thomas Kubayi, born into a Tsonga tribe in the Tshivhuyuni village in Limpopo, was taught by his grandfather and father as a young boy to carve traditional wooden utensils.
As he grew older, he became interested in carving wooden sculptures and later worked with the legendary Venda sculptors John Baloyi and Jackson Hlungwani, who encouraged and inspired him further.

Kubayi produces sculptures and wooden instruments and often sells his work to the many international visitors who visit his home and studio.
Walking fish, the sculpture acquired by the University, is a five-metre fig-wood sculpture that was selected from the Kubayi collection.


  • Jaco Spies, in collaboration with Dina Grobler and the Tshiamo Arts and Crafts Project, Philosophers’ Circle (situated in the garden quad of the West Block)

Description: Jaco Spies, Philosophers’ Circle  Keywords: Jaco Spies, Philosophers’ Circle

A few years ago Prof. Bannie Britz (the architect largely involved with the layout of the campus footpaths) sensitively positioned eight concrete balls in a circle in the garden quad of the West Block and termed it the “philosophers’ circle”.
The idea was to encourage staff and students to sit around the circle and have discussions or informal lectures.

With this in mind, five local artists produced mosaic tiles, which were incorporated into this arrangement to enrich the idea.
Jaco Spies (artist and lecturer at the Department of Fine Arts) designed a mosaic piece centred on the concept of the “cosmos” as a cultural binding component.

The mosaic piece includes references to the Free State map and landscapes. It depicts elements of Basotho Litema textiles, shapes that resemble African needlework and embroidery and drawings of iconic forms associated with the Free State and its history, such as windmills, corn, images of concentration camps and Basotho hats and blankets. Ceramist Dina Grobler collaborated with Loki Maselwane, Tshegofatso Seoco Marogoa and Itumeleng Moamogwa from the Tshiamo Arts and Crafts Development Project in producing and installing the mosaic.


  • Willie Bester, Bull rider (situated at Thakaneng Bridge opposite the Information Centre)

Description: Willie Bester, Bull rider  Keywords: Willie Bester, Bull rider

Renowned artist Willie Bester is considered one of South Africa’s most important ‘struggle’ artists.
Bester’s artwork often comprises debris and scrap metal, which he sources and collects.
Bester’s sculpture and painting assemblages became well known is the 1970s and 80s for its resistance and protest-art character.

Today his artworks still reflect and comment on the political atmosphere of the country and the social realities that inform his worldview.
Bester’s artwork, Bull rider, for the University collection consists of a cluster of three life-size sculptural pieces.
The bull, constructed from agricultural and mechanical machinery mainly sourced from local scrap yards, is an animal that is significant in many cultures and can be associated with wealth.

The bull rider who sits on the bull gestures the way forward and the walking figure guides the bull.
The sculpture is a satirical view of a power struggle, which raises questions about our social demographics, but at the same time, alludes to the fact that we are all interconnected and dependent on one other.


  • Strijdom van der Merwe, Tree of knowledge (situated in front of the Winkie Direko Building)

Description: Strijdom van der Merwe, Tree of knowledge  Keywords: Strijdom van der Merwe, Tree of knowledge

Strijdom van der Merwe is well known for his land art and interventions.
His artworks are usually temporary, as he often finds elements and materials in the landscape to produce his work. Van der Merwe has however created many public art commissions and permanent artworks.

In his works he often depicts geometric ‘criss-cross’ lines which point in several directions, as he is particularly interested how these lines connect and cross over one another.
He is also fascinated by the temporary nature of the shadows of these lines, which change during different times of the day and of the year.
Van der Merwe’s Tree of knowledge created for the University collection is an extension of his criss-cross lines and although the sculpture depicts a tree it can be read as an abstract conglomeration of lines.

The root-like forms of the tree that protrude out of the ground double as benches to sit on.
This gives the sculpture a unique quality that enables students to interact with it.
The Tree of knowledge creates a meeting place for students to share and learn from one another, and celebrates a notion that exists in some African traditions of teaching and coming together underneath a tree.


  • Pat Mautloa, in collaboration with the Spier Architectural Arts, Melodi ya matsha (translated as the Birth of rhythm) (situated in the foyer of the Odeion)

Description: Pat Mautloa, Birth of rhythm Keywords: Pat Mautloa, Birth of rhythm

The thirteen-metre wall mosaic piece installed in the Odeion foyer was designed by artist Kagiso Pat Mautloa. Mautloa is known for his training and involvement with the Rorke’s Drift Art Centre (one of the first institutions established to train black artists in the 1960s) and as one of the founders of the Bag Factory (a studio and artist-in-residency programme in Newtown, Johannesburg). The mosaic piece was produced by the Spier Architectural Arts in Cape Town under the direction of head Italian mosaic specialist Irene Rizzin, who graduated with a Master’s degree from the Scoula Mosaicisti del Fruili in Spilimbergo,Italy.

Mautloa’s design is a celebration of music as an art form and his composition encompasses rhythmic dynamics both in content and in symbolism.
The mosaic begins on the left with the depiction of a classical lyre and continues with references to more contemporary forms of music in the central and right panels.

The mosaic depicts three main figures namely “the listener” on the left in shadow, “the performer or singer” in the central panel and “the trumpet player” on the right, which adds a human presence to the artwork and the space of the Odeion foyer.
The mosaic piece has a rhythmic character with panels of detail contrasted against one another, where certain sections are very detailed and jump forward, while other areas are less detailed and recede.

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