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29 January 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa | Photo Anja Aucamp
Prof Francis Petersen speech
“We can create an institution that operates and lives in the times of embracing and celebrating diversity, inclusivity, and academic excellence by ensuring that students own their time at university,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

25 January 2019 marked the official welcoming of the University of the Free State’s (UFS) first-year students, as they moved into their respective residences and were warmly welcomed on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus. This day also marked the start of the registration process for first-year students.

According to first-year Psychology student Keisha Claasen, who moved into her residence earlier on 25 January, her first experience of the UFS was daunting but exciting, as she had never been in a similar environment. According to Given Gwerera, who dropped his son off at the Karee residence earlier the day, “the UFS is an institution with great culture and an overall good academic record.” He further explained that he trusts his son to make full use of the opportunities presented to him, as he has a cool head on his shoulders.

On the evening of 25 January, an eager group of millennials, joined by their parents, took the first sip from their cup of varsity life as they assembled on the Red Square of the Bloemfontein Campus to meet the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Francis Petersen, members of Rectorate, the deans of all faculties, and the Student Representative Council (SRC) of the UFS.

“2019 will be a year of continued change; the UFS is thrilled about the prospect of bringing about opportunities for adaptation and realignment to the future,” said Prof Francis Petersen.

He further explained that the university prides itself in moulding its students into well-rounded individuals who will develop into globally competitive graduates as required in a diversity of landscapes. Prof Petersen urged first-years to remain open to the technological developments that go with globalisation, because of its permanent effects on society today.

First-years were further advised to take advantage of the rich pool of academic research and knowledge that is characteristic of the university and is piloted by UFS scholars, by engaging with and learning from them.

The inspiring night concluded on a colourful note, as the audience enjoyed an artistic laser show in front of the Main Building. Caption:

“UFS academics conduct research that forces the world to take note,” said Prof Francis Petersen at the official first-year welcoming ceremony on the UFS Bloemfontein Campus.

News Archive

Artistic development at UFS to transform the face of Bloemfontein creatively
2015-07-02

The 7-metre high ‘Urban Fox’ is one of Alex Rinsler's artworks adding a fragment of the wild to the city of Shanghai in China.

Bold, bright, and beautiful public art sculptures are in the inception phase at the university’s Bloemfontein Campus. Manchester-based public artist, Alex Rinsler, of the Programme for Innovation in Artform Development (PIAD)’s forum for artist development, is to install three enthralling sculptures in the city of Bloemfontein.

The PIAD forum for artist development is an initiative of the Vrystaat Arts Festival, formerly known as the Vryfees, which aims to celebrate art in the Free State by hosting experimental art practices. In its capacity as a PIAD partner, the University of the Free State promotes increased access to, and participation in, culture as a form of human development.

Presenting an artist’s talk titled ‘Urban Safari: Art in public space,’ on the Bloemfontein Campus recently Rinsler introduced himself and his creative ideas to students, staff, and the public at the Johannes Stegman Art Gallery. The talk served as an invitation to the active participation of Bloemfontein citizens in all phases leading to the installations. Dispersed across the Mangaung Metropolitan, the giant sculptures are intended to capture and reflect different aspects of the community’s lived experiences. 

As a public artist based in the United Kingdom (UK), Rinsler has exhibited in cities nationally and internationally, with the intention of bringing a touch of the wild to urban lives. His vision is to witness the development of cities into cultural boulevards, and explore “what we can do to bring back the sense of nature, the wild” by adding new symbolism to urban lifestyle.

“I believe in creating work accessible to the public, which stimulates conversation,” said the Clore Leadership Programme Fellow (University of Manchester) and Founder of Pirate Technics - an artistic practice company.

In 2012, he worked with 31 Master’s students from 24 countries on an icon for global peace named “Under the Baobab” in London. The colourful and magnificent Baobab tree made from pieces of fabric representing distinct cultures told the story of migration to London.

Rinsler is determined that the Bloemfontein “project, similar to the London installation, will create imagery that people will remember.”

Dr Ricardo Peach, Director of the Vrystaat Arts Festival and PIAD, hopes the project fosters diversity while producing a “communal cultural product." 

“What I know about Alex’s work is that he will be working with what he calls a self-selected community, people who are interested in this, and who want to work together to build these sculptures, as part as a process for them to get a sense of where they belong, and their input into the city. It’s about people telling their own stories.”

The public installations are a way of transforming the landscape, and connecting people of “a place like Bloemfontein where communities are often still so divided,” said Peach.

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