Safe Spaces Benches

Bench One: Red River Primary School
Artists: Grade 6 girls from Red River Primary School & Lovell Friedman/Tim Lewis
Location: Red River Primary School, Manenberg

In late 2010, the grade 5 girls at Red River Primary School decided to create a place at their school where they could feel safe. After taking photos around the school and talking with classmates, the girls chose to place a “Safe Bench” near the tuck shop on the school grounds. With the help of Rock Girl, mosaic artist Lovell Friedman, and the Freeworld Design Centre, the girls designed a bench, painted murals, planted a garden, and ignited a school-wide effort to make their school a safer place. They also engaged the boys, starting an much-needed, ongoing dialogue about how to work together. Plans are now underway to paint the entire school, create an art room, and expand the after-school options for children of all ages. These girls have demonstrated that by working together, they can create change. They are the inspiration for the Rock Girl Safe Spaces Campaign.

Benches Two and Three: Speak Out Bench
Artists: Lovell Friedman and Tim Lewis
Location: Cape Town International Convention Centre
Sister Bench: CTICC CSI project in Khayelitsha

The first Rock Girl Safe Spaces bench was showcased at the Design Indaba in Cape Town in February 2011 to wide acclaim. The bench base was designed by Cape Town artist Tim Lewis and is made of a mix of concrete and other materials. The base design was chosen for both its strength and durability and its feminine form, signifying both the strength and the beauty of women. The mosaic was designed by Cape Town artist Lovell Friedman, in partnership with Rock Girl founders and community members. The messages on the flower petals and the headdresses were taken from local women. The eyes are from African culture and represent women and their role in watching out for each other. The healing hands, from San culture, suggest both the need to stop violence and to help each other. The color red represents blood, violence, and courage and pink was brought in to suggest femininity and girlhood. Four people can sit on the bench and must face each other and watch out for each other, as women and men, girls and boys, must both face one another and watch out for each other in day-to-day life.
Its sister bench has the same shape and feel, but contains different messaging.

Bench Four: Sisters Bench
Artists: Lovell Friedman and Tim Lewis
Location: Amy Biehl Memorial, Gugulethu

The Sisters bench was designed and created to honour Mary Jo, the sister of Christy Wallace. Many years ago, Mary Jo was violently attacked while on a jog in California. She survived the attack and her sister, Christy, has chosen to celebrate her sister and her own birthday by sponsoring a Safe Spaces bench. The bench was created by Lovell Friedman, with a base by Tim Lewis. This stunning bench will be placed at the Amy Biehl Memorial in Gugulethu. This is especially appropriate Amy Biehl made an important contribution to the issue of women’s rights during her time in South Africa.

Benches Five and Six: Share our Strength/Ubuntu
Artists: Lovell Friedman and Tim Lewis and Snapp Design
Location: Freeworld Design Centre, Cape Town
Sister Bench: Grassroots Soccer Football for Hope Centre (designed by Snapp Design – see next bench)

The Share our Strength bench was inspired by the amazing team at Freeworld Design Centre, who generously offered to host a bench and raise funds for a sister bench for the girls Skilz Street programme of Grassroots Soccer. The sister bench will be located at the Football for Hope Centre in Khayelitsha. The Freeworld bench was designed by Lovell Friedman and Tim Lewis and reflects the courage and strength of the women of Freeworld Design Centre and their commitment to creating safe spaces for girls and women. The sister bench, designed by Jonathan Fundudis of Snapp Design, is in a circular design and will be incorporated into the curriculum of the GRS Skilz Street programme to educate and inspire girls to live healthy, risk-free lives. The girls have participated in planting the tree in the middle of the bench to provide both shelter from the sun and serve a symbol of the hope that Rock Girl has in the potential of these young women.

Bench Seven: Snapp Design/Jonathan Fundudis
Location: Greenpoint Park/pending
Twin Bench: Grassroots Soccer Football for Hope Centre (a sister of the Freeworld Bench)

Benches Eight and Nine: Woman
Artist: Igneous Concrete/Kirsten Youens
Location: Artscape
Sister Bench: CSI project/TBD

The bench, designed by Kirsten Youens and Igenous Concrete, takes the basic shape of a pebble ottoman and marries three pebbles together to form a triple spiral. The inspiration for the “woman” bench comes from the ancient Triskele, Triple Goddess or Spiral of Life pattern. This bench wil be permanently located at Artscape and its sister bench will be installed at a CSI project of Artscape.

This pattern has long represented and celebrated the strength and beauty of women in all stages of their lives – as maiden, as mother and as sage. The three spirals symbolise youthfulness, bourgeoning femininity, innocence (maiden); life giving capability, compassion and strength (mother); wisdom, caring and reinvestment (sage).
The Triple Spiral is the ancient equivalent to Girl Power except that it extends to Mother and Sage too – all the stages of womanhood. Essentially, the Triple Spiral represents Rock Girl, Rock Mother and Rock Sage. The circles imprinted on the sides of the bench are inlaid with kiaat wood and represent and symbolise strength, inclusion, infinity, the womb, unity and wholeness. The bubbles, those circles embossed into the polyconcrete, represent the fragility of life – particularly in the context of women.

Benches Ten and Eleven: Birds of Freedom
Artist: Aram Lello
Location: Freeworld Design Centre in August 2011, then location will be announced
Sister Bench: TBD

This bench, designed by architect Aram Lello, conveys a determined, clear, strong, free, and confident message necessary to improve the lives of many people, of many women. The idea for the bench is a simple form that can be functional and symbolic, easy to recognize and remember. It is in an urban design element shape similar to the wings of birds, a symbol of freedom and independence.
The bench is built of steel and painted a brilliant red. The sister bench will be made in concrete and dyed a similar red colour. The colour is important because it is the colour of warning signage: “stop” the violence! But it’s also the color of the heat of the trust that we need to improve the world.

Benches Twelve and Thirteen: Bambanani and Waves
Artist: Zizamele Ceramics/Toni Burton and artist TBD
Location: Masiphumulele
Sister Bench: Surfer’s Corner/Muizenberg (pending)

This bench is symbolic of a group of four Xhosa women holding hands – they form the backrest of the bench. The women’s figures are attached to a semi-circular shaped bench to create intimacy amongst the “sitters”, who can lean against the “woman-shaped” backrests and find support. The bench was designed and created by a group of previously unemployed women artists who were trained in ceramic skills in 2004 and have since been creating and exporting ceramics around the world.
The sister bench is still in the design phase.