Working closely with artist Hannelie Coetzee, TAL developed a bespoke fixing solution exclusively for the installation of the Ndzundza/Nzunza portrait, a larger than life art installation on the west wall of City Property’s North City House in Braamfontein, now renamed Nzunza House.
Using the concept of pixels as inspiration, Coetzee used ceramic plates, bowls and cups from the Johannesburg-based manufacturer Liebermann Pottery. Each piece of crockery represents an individual pixel, which together creates the image of a Ndzundza/Nzunza woman in profile, approximately 5,5m wide and 33m high.
To achieve the intended aesthetic impact, Coetzee required a specific colour finish between the individual items and following much consultation and rigorous testing, a suitable product and a technical specification for the installation were developed.
A unique challenge
After the previous mosaics covering Nzunza House were removed, a TAL Keymix and TAL Keycoat primer slurry coat was applied to the facade to prepare the surface for the installation. This slurry coat provides a level of water resistance to the installation and creates a suitable surface for the adhesive system to bond onto.
Each individual item of crockery was plotted and laid out on the floor inside the building. Using a pattern, portions of the giant mosaic mural were moved and placed on the wall outside, which meant that the work progressed in small sections.
To accommodate this slower, methodical installation, TAL supplied the product in 10kg bags, rather than the traditional 20kg bags, to avoid “skinning” of the product and preventing wastage. Smaller bags were also more manageable working on a scaffold many metres above the ground.
Since the installation is on an exterior, west-facing wall, subject to direct afternoon sun, as well as rain and frost as the seasons change, a highly flexible fixing system was essential so that the installation could move with the anticipated thermal expansion and contraction, without fear of cracking or delamination. The larger pieces of crockery were also treated with a poly-propylene coating to protect them from damage during hailstorms.
To ensure a strong bond between the “tile” pieces, and the tile adhesive and grouting system, a TAL Keymix and TAL Keycoat primer slurry was also applied to the back of each piece before being assembled onto the mesh backing. These were positively fixed to the surface by drilling through the larger plates and bowls, anchoring them with both the tile adhesive and screws.
Equally important, movement joints which extend all the way to the substrate were specified and established at regular intervals.
When installing mosaics or items like this, the bonding and grouting are generally done in one application to ensure a good bond. Thus, any voids between the plates, cups and bowls within the installation were filled with the bespoke adhesive and grout from TAL, delivering a smooth finish.
Tel: 0860 000 TAL (825)
Main image: The Ndzundza/Nzunza portrait on the west wall of City Property’s North City House in Braamfontein, now renamed Nzunza House, was officially unveiled on Women’s Day, 9 August 2018.
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