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The future of cities according to women : Interview with Thozama Mputa




“my vision of a future city; a city that acknowledges its past, celebrates the present and plans for change”

In April and May 2017, the Constructing Future Cities project supported by the British Council engaged with 5 women artists on the topic of future cities. Read interviews with Thozama below, Michelle Mlati here and Counterspace here.


What aspect of cities do you think impact women negatively the most?

The fact that women do not feel safe and are not safe in our cities is something that needs to be addressed. Women of all ages commute using public transport and on foot to get to work, school and home. Many women and children travel in the dark and alone, this journey must be a safe and comfortable. Through simple design interventions I believe that it is possible for this journey to be made safe.

Does the idea of a “woman’s vision for a city” have more to do with process or outcome in your opinion? 

It has to do with both, as a different process will lead to a different outcome. The result will not be substantially different as the vision will be built on the existing city but will be simple yet effective.

What inspired you to integrate art and architecture in your approach?

I am comfortable expressing my thoughts and ideas through drawing; my passion for architecture has kept me constantly drawing and my passion for art has made it enjoyable for me to study landscape architecture. Because of this I have constantly integrated the two even though it is challenging at times.

How have the visits, meetings and exchanges during the Constructing Future Cities programme influenced and translated in your artworks?

During site visits I took many photographs with my film camera, I developed these photographs and referenced them in my artwork. I layered various sites and faces capturing them in my artwork, capturing the essence of a city. Meetings and exchanges helped my exercise my voice in intimate and larger scaled meetings. I enjoyed hearing the challenges and opportunities faced by people working and developing cities, this was very informative in establishing my idea of what a future city is.

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What are you trying to communicate with your work for this project?

The title of the work is a phrase in Xhosa my home language, directly translated to: A bird builds with the feathers of another. It encompasses my vision of a future city; a city that acknowledges its past, celebrates the present and plans for change, an inclusive city designed by its inhabitants and explored by its visitors. The artwork makes use of hatching to illustrate and merge faces, landscapes and cityscapes. Creating rhythm and pattern emphasised by the use of colour. 

What would a women-led vision for a city “feel like” upon completion? How would any individual experience that space differently?

One would experience a space differently if one had an opportunity to contribute and to be informed during the design process. One would take pride in the space, be able to use the space effectively and educate others on spaces in the city.


About Thozama Mputa 

Thozama Mputa is an artist currently completing a Masters in Landscape Architecture at the University of Cape Town. Mputa paints portraits in landscapes in mixed medium, often combining the two with emphasis on colour and on line with hatching techniques learnt in architecture. Mputa also practices film photography and enjoys double exposing the film layering landscapes, cityscapes and portraiture while capturing the experiential. Mputa previously completed her undergraduate studies in Landscape Architecture at the University of Pretoria in 2013. She was born in Cape Town in 1991.




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