:: Melkhoutfontein, Stilbaai, Western Cape, South Africa - February & March 2016 ::
In early 2015, I was contacted by Anthea Roussouw, the director of Dreamcatchers South Africa, to become involved in an exciting mural project in the town of Melkhoutfontein, Stilbaai in the Western Cape. This project which is part-funded by Utopia Volunteers, is called PaintUp with Kamamma, and aims to recover lost cultural memories for the community of Melkhoutfontein and restore pride and dignity in their history as well as build a more propserous future for the people. This will be achieved through the medium of art over a period of three years, painting up their houses with images from the community's prehistory, oral history and cultural heritage so that Melkhoutfontein can become a unique photographic tourist destination just a short drive from one of South Africa's most popular surfing and holiday resorts and close to the famous Garden Route. I was invited to participate in the first phase of this project and to become the Lead Artist throughout the three year life of the initiative.
The area around Melkhoutfontein has a history and prehistory deeper than most regions - just a few kilometres away is the now famous Blombos Cave in which the first evidence of human creative and symbolic expression has been found in the form of engraved ochre pieces, along with evidence for body painting, dating to 80,000 years ago. Also important in the region's culture were the Strandloper Khoi people and the /Xam Bushmen who left traces of their culture in the rock art of the Western Cape and who lived their lives in the Goukou estuary which runs close to the town.
The coming of Christianity and the consecration of the first church in the area, the shipwreck of an Irish ship in Stillbay, the patriarch Moses Kleinhans and the strong fishing heritage of the people, as well as the Anglo-Boer war and the tragedies of the apartheid era all form important memories in the culture of Melkhoutfontein. It is quite accurate to say that the people of Melkhoutfontein draw their heritage not just from Southern Africa but from all over the world!
The murals that I designed and painted aimed to reflect all of this richness and diversity, and here can be seen a selection of images and works-in-progress for the project. I am delighted to participate in this brilliant initiative, which will last three years and eventually cover much of the town. The first phase launched on 22nd & 23rd March 2016 in Melkhoutfontein, Stillbaai, Western Cape, South Africa. If you would like to volunteer as an artist, mural designer or house painter for the PaintUp with Kamamma project over the next three years, to keep updated with developments or to be informed when the next Call For Artists is published, please contact Dreamcatchers South Africa.
:: THINKING STRINGS - A WALK THROUGH MELKHOUTFONTEIN::
:: February - March 2016 - Melkhoutfontein, Western Cape, South Africa ::
A short film slideshow with images taken on the final full day of my stay in the town of Melkhoutfontein, with all seven completed murals seen in their proper contexts. We start at the edge of town with the Timewalk, and as we progress through one of the main streets we see several other murals - The Eland People, various Swift People and Strandlopers - come into view. The narration is taken from my speech written for the launch event on 22nd March 2016, which many people said they found inspiring and emotional. With deep gratitude to the people of Melkhoutfontein for such a warm and welcoming time.