Tharien Smith and her IPAF mural on the StateoftheART Gallery windows

THARIEN SMITH and the International Public Art Festival 2023

StateoftheART Gallery once again took part in the International Public Art Festival (IPAF) in March 2023, with artist Tharien Smith painting an eye-catching mural on the Gallery windows.

The IPAF 2023 theme is "What If?", which seeks to push the boundaries of the 'known' to expand minds, spaces and societies. StateoftheART Gallery is currently hosting a group exhibition titled "TIME & TIDE (wait for no man)",  and Tharien Smith combined both of these themes to create a public art piece reflecting life in the city on Buitenkant Street. The mural covers the window of StateoftheART Gallery's and neighbour Bestwood Flooring, to depict a group of people in the city centre: moving, working or waiting, with the central figure highlighted in her signature bright orange.


About the International Public Art Festival:
This year, the festival was based at Cape Town’s Company’s Garden and consisted of a carefully curated series of public artworks spread throughout the Gardens and the streets of Cape Town's CBD, which can be explored by following the Art Route Map. The 7th edition of the Festival, hosted by Baz Art, celebrates art that is created for the people. Working with incredible artists from around the world, the festival showcases site-specific public artworks that form part of shared community spaces, reflecting and adding to the diverse culture of Cape Town, using art to create positive messages that invoke change and disruption, and making the public ask, "what if"?

An exciting addition to the 2023 event were the Gallery Activations. IPAF teamed up with local galleries in and around Cape Town to extend the lines between traditional and public art. WORLDART Gallery exhibited artworks of past IPAF participants in "Concrete 2 Canvas"; both StateoftheART and 6 Spin Street featured window public art pieces and Nel gallery displayed a window installation.

2023 Theme: 'What If?'
From looking back at alternative histories to forward-looking speculative fictions and questioning current status quos and accepted norms, the question of 'What If' seeks to push the boundaries of the 'known', to expand minds, creativities and spaces.

Visit the International Public Art festival website here to read more or view the map.



Tharien Smith paints in brigh blue paint on the Gallery Window


About Tharien Smith:
Tharien graduated with a National Textile Diploma from TUT in 1995. She has spent most of her career working in various creative corporate environments, designing everything from furnishing fabrics to fashion, graphics and ceramic tiles. The artist resides in Cape Town combining skills to create beautiful artworks spanning across multiple mediums.

"In my 'Buitenkant Street' mural, I am focusing on people living in an urban environment.

What I like about cities is that everything is king-size - the beauty as well as the ugliness. Our relations with cities are like our relationships with people. We love them, hate them, or are indifferent toward them. It is humanity compressed. The best and the worst combined, in a strangely composite community.

In much of my work I incoporate rain and rainy days in the urban environment because I'm interested in the contrast between the rain that refreshes while bringing new hope and the rushed lives that can drain you. I find it fascinating that - although we are all connected by living in the city, water and our very own DNA - we are indifferent to one another. I'm still trying to make sense of it all. In the concrete jungle, we are all part of the rat race, rushing around and passing one another in close quarters, but can still feel lonely and disconnected.

I usually use a bright orange thread stitched into my canvases to create a contrast to the grittiness of the grey. This symbolises the connectedness many of us still crave. For this painting on the windows, I recreated my stitching using bright orange spraypaint instead, which was both a new challenge for me and at the same time very exciting and playful."

- Tharien Smith


Tharien Smith working on her mural on the shop windows


As well as the mural on the exterior of the Gallery, Tharien has a number of artworks on canvas for sale inside. Browse her portfolio online here.

Her latest painting, titled 'Buitenkant Street' draws inspiration from the mural, but uses her signature bright orange embroidery instead of spray paint.


A mixed media painting of figures walking in the rain, the main figure filled in with orange thread stitched'Buitenkant Street' by Tharien Smith, Mixed media of embroidery and painting on canvas, 60 x 42cm


Find out more about the International Public Art Festival on their website and take a tour of the artworks created in 2023 using their map here.

Visit the Gallery to see more artworks by Tharien Smith.

Tharien paints as part of IPAF 2023