MURALS IN CAPE TOWN

 The first in a series of two

It is interesting to see people’s reactions to graffiti art.  Quite often they judge it as if it were some less than savoury expletive.  But even a superficial glance must convince one that, in the decades after the 1960s, graffiti art has evolved in form and quality beyond all expectation.  It has been said that graffiti art has taken the history of art into new directions.

The images that I have are random.  Others might have a better representation of what Cape Town offers.  I share mine to get the chat going.

These two works are by the Cape Town artist, Faith 47, who has achieved international repute and has been invited to paint murals in capitals of the world.  The first is on the vibracrete fence at Zonnebloem school in District Six.  The second is six storeys high – a woman in traditional dress and her child.

These works are on walls in Woodstock.  The first two may have an ideological message.

The next two are part of commercial advertising.  In the last one the barred shadow of the burglar bar over the bird only happens at certain times of the day.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2018

 

Images

My photographs

 

See also “HipHop Graffiti” in http://www.loertoer.wordpress.com   

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MURALS IN CAPE TOWN

The second in a series of two

I have an idea that these two murals on the way to Cape Town airport were also done by Faith 47.  The first I call Radio Boy.  The second, Speak no Evil, is remarkable by any standards.

I saw these two twice life-size hands on the wall of a garden in Panorama.  I have no idea who painted this.  With so much of this art it is a matter of Look-what-I-did, not Praise-me-for-what I-did, because you don’t know who I am.

Vibracrete wall fencing must rank as the most unaesthetic invention, in my opinion.  So it is that I painted these two murals on my vibracrete fence in Monte Vista.  I copied them from tiles that are about six times smaller than they are.  The originals, I thought, were affectionate parodies of Khoi-San rock art.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

March, 2018

 

Images

My photographs

 

See too “HipHop Graffiti” in www.loertoer.wordpress.com 

which deals with graffiti art in Mowbray, Cape Town. 

SERIMA – a kind of rebirth

The Serima Mission Church in Zimbabwe, founded by Father Groeber (1903 – 1972), a Swiss missionary, after the Second World War, is a landmark in the anticipated  rebirth of Africa.

I have not been to Serima and if I had to go it would be a kind of pilgrimage.  The images presented here mostly come from a book.

Father Groeber and sculptors

It is a biding passion for me to see how the artists of the modern world manifest concepts of the sacred;   at the same, how cultures that are not European do this.  The relief work, painting and sculpture of this mission station, facilitated by Father Groeber, is remarkable.

The Last Supper

 

Last Supper in Ethiopian coptic idiom

He stated that, from the beginning, he tried to keep traditional European images at bay, encouraging the African sculptors to develop a wholly African idiom.  It is probable that he was not entirely successful at this.

FIgures from the Old Testament

 

Annunciation

The search for the African idiom has yielded great art in the realm of the sacred and I think of the Misa Luba, the Congolese mass, to mention one memorable achievement.  Serima, at a distance, recalls for me, the Romanesque of Europe, but there are elements that are unique as well.  The idea of a “pure” culture is probably a myth.  This work, though, has Africa at its heart.

Scene of Stilling the Storm

 

Figures from Old Testament

I am uncertain what the link between the Serima art and Shona sculpture is.  I’d be happy if someone could tell me.  In the meantime I can only wonder at this rich creativity coming from a country that has known war and political unrest.

Christ figure

 

Mother and Child

© Will van der Walt

www.wilwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

February, 2018

 

Sources

ZimFieldGuide.com

Book on Serima, details pending

 

Images

ZimFieldGuide.com – Fr Groeber, Church

Book on Serima, details pending

 

 

  

 

 

 

Shona magic – sculpture from Zimbabwe

The first in a series of two

“There is always something new out of Africa”, the Roman historian wrote.  His twinkling optimism has taken a battering in the past few centuries, but when there is something new from Africa, it is remarkable.

These were my thoughts when I visited Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town years ago and, for the first time, saw the sculpture of Shona artists from Zimbabwe.  Since that time the international reputation of these artists has burgeoned.

I struggled at first to find information on the work and recently I was happy to see an article in Wikipedia that filled the gaps.

We read that the sculpture of the Shona artists has been “an art phenomenon and a miracle.”  The reason is that there are no precedents for art of this kind in this culture, compared to other parts of Africa.

The setting for these works was, of course, as special as it was unusual — generous spaces between the works, each against a verdant backdrop overarched by the majesty of the mountain.

I found most of the work strikingly creative.  My reactions ranged from being charmed to being disturbed, from a philosophical response to being deeply touched.

It gave the optimism of the Roman historian a new face.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

February, 2018

Source

Wikipedia :  Sculpture of Zimbabwe

 

Images

My photographs

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shona Magic –  sculptures from Zimbabwe

The second in a series of two

The work of the Shona sculptors has been a revelation to me.  Consistently, they have delivered memorable forms in a wide range of themes.

There is fertility, support for AIDS victims, motherhood.  There is blindness, romantic love, images of surrealism.

Some images speak of anguish, some, of sadness.  Some are angry.

Very little of this work is design for design’s sake.  But, as one writer said, they don’t leave nature as they found it.  Some images have a dream-like quality.

I have one regret and that is that I did not, at the time, attach the names of artists to their works.  But I honour them still, whoever they may be.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

February, 2018

 Source

Wikipedia: Sculpture from Zimbabwe

 Images

My photographs

 

 

 

 

 

HEIN WAGNER, a living legend

 

Hein Wagner

It defies expecations to look up the name Hein Wager on the internet to see the list of his incredible achievements.  He has climbed the ten highest mountains in the Western Cape, he has participated in many marathons, both in South Africa and abroad, and he has held the land speed world record.  And he was born blind.

I mention but a few things.  The list goes on, dwarfing what most sighted achievement-seekers have attained.  It makes him a living legend, one of the most remarkable South Africans and certainly one of the most remarkable blind people in the world.

I met him in the Drama Department at Tygerberg College, Panorama, Cape Town.  It was 2003 and, after stroking his guide dog, the most beautiful I have seen,  I was faced with a request that seemed impossible:  teach me to act, he said.

From a motivational speech by Hein

I pushed the impossibilities aside and together we devised ways for him to handle the space of a stage.  He would be barefooted and I laid lengths of twine across the floor.  There were knots in the twine which he could “read” — single, double, treble  — and this would tell him where he was.  The show was called “Bat Magic” and dealt with his life as man born blind.  It was unbelievably funny, and, as a consequence, deeply moving and inspiring.  That year it was the talk of the National Arts Festival at Grahamstown.

It is mind-boggling that a prominent computer company employed him where he worked for a number of years.  He sat with me when I had dysfunctions on my computer and fixed the problems.  He had memorized the software!

Poster for his motivational programmes

Once, I led him to a painting of a nude in my lounge.  I guided his finger-tips over its surface, saying, This is the forehead, this is the nipple, here is the hip and this is the foot.  I tried to “colour in” my words by referring to  natural phenomena like wind and cold, and sensations.

He was moved.  “Beautiful,” he said.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

January, 2018

 

Source

Wikipedia Hein Wagner

 

Images

Hein Wagner – all4women.co.za

Can’t Can – action4.org.za

Hein –  heinwagner.com

 

 

 

 

J.C.E. Seeliger – architect

The first in a series of two

It is interesting how few people know who the first South African architect of note was.  We reach for names like Herbert Baker (Union Buildings, Groote Schuur Hospital, etc), but he was born in Kent … J. Parker, H. Rowe-Rowe, F. Cherry, E. Simpkin, S. Stent … none of them was born in South Africa.  And so, few of us know … probably because architects are strangely invisible and unsung.

            The young Seeliger

His name was Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger, born to Prussian-German immigrants who had actually been on the way to Australia and found themselves, after being defrauded of their possessions, more pleasantly situated in Paarl where their baby, born soon after their arrival, was christened in the Rietdak Church in 1863.  In his late teenage years he undertook a hazardous journey on a barque to Europe and made his way to Berlin where, for the next few years, he trained as an architect before returning to South Africa.   In the late-19th-century the cities of South Africa were undergoing change which would make them largely what they are now.  For an architect these were exciting times.

                      10 Keerom St, Cape Town

His magnum opus, built in 1904, is the building at 10 Keerom St, central Cape Town, opposite the Supreme Court.  This building, in classical jugendstil, was the home of the Burger newspaper for decades, along with various other media agencies.  It was also where Seeliger’s office and studio were throughout his life.

           St Stephens Church, Riebeeck Square

Much of what he did is unknown.  In 1902, he was  commissioned to convert the entry porch of St Stephen’s Church, built in 1800, on Riebeeck Square.  He gave the front door and the flanking windows a Gothic character.  The building was declared a national monument in 1965.

© Will van der Walt

www.willwilltravel.wordpress.com

Les Semboules, Antibes

November, 2017

 

Sources

W.J.v.d.Walt:  Johann Carl Ernst Seeliger – noted architect –  article in Lantern, 1994.

Acknowledgement and thanks to the late Miss Anna Seeliger for information and photographs.

Thanks to Joan Brokensha.  

 

Images

Seeliger family archive.

St Stephens – Mervyn Hector

 

 

 

 

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