Free State Tourist AttractionsThe Thinking Stone
Where? Red Square, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, Free State
This is a large, sandstone rock artwork by South African sculptor Willem Boshoff, commissioned to produce a major sculpture for the core of the University of the Free State campus.
It is said that the stone, which lies on Red Square close to the main building, was commissioned in response to an incident in 2007 when a couple of Afrikaner students were alleged to have urinated into the food of some black workers.
The Thinking Stone is an artwork to 'promote a greater understanding, respect and appreciation of cultural differences and to instil a sense of belonging in all staff and students.
It is a 24-ton polished black granite rock, quarried from Boschpoort Granite in Belfast, Mpumalanga on which there are engravings resembling the prehistoric rock engravings, or petroglyphs, of the Driekopseiland, a prehistoric rock art site close to Kimberley.
Additionally there are sandblasted inscriptions in six languages to inspire thought and contemplation. It also encourages students to think critically and to learn not only about themselves but the world.
The artist is well known for his conceptual pieces in which he promotes conversation. His work includes Children of the Stars at the Cradle of Humankind, and a further work for South Africa House in Trafalgar square in London.
The university initiated live performance sessions at the Thinking Stone in 2014, providing a stage initially for Slam or Performance Poetry, but also for singing and rapping.
This gave a wide range of talented students access to a platform. The last 10 to 15 minutes of every session is reserved for an 'Open Mic' for those students who have not necessarily signed up for the event, but have something to contribute.
The Thinking Stone forms part of the UFS Sculpture Walk, connecting sixteen permanent sculptures around main campus.