Saturday, March 29, 2014

Namaqualand Bodymapping workshops: support needed!

These are photographs from a workshop that took place on the farm Begin!, located on the R362 between Klawer and Vredendal in the Western Cape. The project is organised by Desireé Brand, and forms part of her research at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, focusing on the state of art and artmaking in the Olifantsrivier Valley of Namaqualand.  The area plays host to a lot of creative and talented people, however there is no public art, galleries or other platforms for local artists. It's difficult enough for artists to create great art despite criticism and self-doubt, but it's even worse when there is no platform, no support and no community for the creative work that you do and to share your interest and passion for art. 

The Koekenaap workshop, in which I participated in 2011 (read about it on my blog, my work created during the workshop, my account in Afrikaans),  was one of the opportunities created for artists in the region, and was organised by Desireé and the Wesland Kunsvereniging. The workshop brought artists in from different areas of the Western Cape, creating a space for interaction, collaboration, art-making, discussion and ideas germination. It also culminated into an exhibition in Vredendal held at the Wesland Kunsvereniging, showcasing the work created during the 10-day workshop or residency. 

Artmaking during the 2011 regional Koekenaap workshop

The current project is focused on doing body-mapping with people from different sectors - bringing together farm workers, people from the towns and people from the townships in a supportive space where their creativity can be explored and utilised into shaping a collective. Up to now the funding for projects such as this has come from the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs & Sport, but this workshop is the last project that will be funded by the department, leaving a huge gap that needs to be filled. This is where you come in. If you can support or fund the project in any way, please contact Desireé at +27 27 2132567 or

Friday, March 28, 2014

Artist Feature: Georgia Papageorge

Georgia Papageorge is a South African land artist, who attained her bachelor's degree in fine arts from the University of South Africa in Pretoria in 1979 and a higher diploma in graphics from Pretoria Technikon in 1981. Much of her work explores the theme of geographical rifts, and how they are metaphors for rifts between races, countries, continents, and also personal identity or experience.

Papageorge's work has been motivated and informed by evidence of the effects of climate change as well as the highly illegal and dangerous charcoal trade that is carried out in most Central African countries.

: MKAA III, 2008, installation with bags of charcoal and red chevroned banners, Northern Tanzania September 2006, Lightjet prints on Fuji Crystal archival paper, 230 x 110 cm. Right: Kilimanjaro – Southern Glaciers, 1898, 2010, mixed media on canvas, with inkjet print taken from the earliest known photograph of the glaciers, and lines of poured ash from the ash cone of Kilimanjaro itself, 230 x 140 cm

Kilimanjaro/Coldfire is the fourth in a series of major African land art projects which Papageorge has worked on since 1994. A crisp red temperature line moving across the surface of images of the mountain demonstrates an analysis of glacial melt. Photographic documentation of Kilimanjaro's southern ice field, taken over a period of 70 years by people living in the vicinity, is also shown in one of her works and bares testament of the enormous effect of global warming.

Georgia Papageorge. Global Warming Series: Kilimanjaro from the Tanzanian town of Moshi, mixed media on paper with collage of inkjet prints from photographs by local people in 1940's, including the 1943 film taken by General Jan Smuts, 100 x 100 cm

Exploring the Gondwana schism, she completed Africa Rifting: Lines of Fire, Namibia/Brazil in 2003, which featured broad lengths of red cloth wrapped around the oceanic borders of two nations: Namibia and Brazil, who once shared a border before the continents drifted apart eons ago.

"...transforming mere cloth into lines of fire and blood. They are symbolic lines, symbolic of fire and blood. In my Kilimanjaro works, I see water as the lifeblood of Africa.”
- Georgia Papageorge

Sources: (initial introduction to Georgia's work)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Better Living Challenge

Have an idea that relates to access to electricity, water and sanitation, water/flood-proofing, fireproofing, ventilation, heating, cooling, space constraints, safety or privacy? The Better Living Challenge is a call to designers and innovators; manufacturers and retailers; students and professionals; self-taught designers and tradesmen; architects and engineers; to develop home improvement solutions that support a better quality of life for all.

The continually growing need for homes outstrips the capacity and resources of the government to deliver. There is a need to find home improvement solutions that are affordable and allow people to incrementally improve their dwellings at their own pace. Such solutions will contribute towards improved living conditions and quality of life. The Better Living Challenge has three entry categories.

  • Innovative products and materials used in the construction of homes.
  • Innovative approaches and components for self-built homes and structures.
  • Systems and products that allow for incremental expansion of existing structures.

  • Products, services and systems which create a more liveable and enjoyable internal environment, including improved temperature control and internal air quality, as well as light, energy and water efficiency.
  • Products and systems that address fire risk.
  • Modular and space saving furniture and storage ideas.
  • Solutions to create flexible public/private space for homes where a single space may have multiple uses throughout the day.

  • Products, services or systems that digitally and physically connect a home to its surroundings and beyond.
  • Solutions that connect a home to the physical environment, including food production and waste water systems.
  • Off-grid solutions for individual households.

  • You need to show you have considered the environmental impact of your products, and explored environmentally-friendly materials and efficient production techniques.
  • Solutions need to be financially accessible to the low-income market. You need to demonstrate how scale, production and material costs impact on price, and show you have thought about how to get your product, system or service to market in an affordable manner.
  • A sustainable business model will touch on how your solution can be replicated at a local level. What can be done to enhance what is already produced locally? Has thought been given to working with existing low-income housing providers?

ENTER your product or idea at

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SEEDS | Izimbewu | FILM Festival

The exciting SEEDS | izimBewu Film Festival will be happening in Howick over the long weekend, 21 – 23 March 2014, starting at 10h30 every day. The venue for the main events is the new conference centre at the Howick Hotel, 2 Main Street.

The vision of SEEDS is to draw on the wisdom from our past to build resilience for our future through thought-provoking films, keynote speakers, Ignite sessions, display stands, seed swops, live music, poetry, food, crafts and more. There will be a seed-sharing ceremony to commemorate the importance of seeds in sustaining life and the value of sharing seeds from different areas. Visitors from Venda, Thukela Ferry, Mnweni, the Transkei and the Wild Coast will swop seeds with local seed savers from Mphopomeni, Howick and Karkloof.

Each day has a different theme: 

Friday (Human Rights Day): 
Seeds of Freedom – organic food gardening/family farming/permaculture urban gardens; 
Saturday (World Water Day): 
Water of Life - water, dams, rivers
Seeds of Hope – cultural diversity and learning about the sacred places and their links to biodiversity.

The festival will also be showcasing some young local first-time filmmakers who have made short movies. A parallel event at Howick uMngeni Museum will screen interesting movies that could not be accommodated in the main programme. A small donation is requested. 

“The SEEDS | izimBewu Film Festival is destined to become an annual event that will put Howick on the sustainable living / community-driven map. Community is everyone who is prepared to contribute energy and enthusiasm into creating a better future for current and future generations. The process of putting together a 3-day film festival in 7 weeks has been so exciting, dynamic, diverse, creative and such fun. If this is what the new future is about, then bring in on!” 
- Sheila Berry, festival organiser

Details of the programme:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Cape Town Eco Film Festival Programme

read these roads and see the water flow...

read these roads. Kai Lossgott. 2010. Experimental Film.

This morning, artist Janet Ranson sent me a link to Kai Lossgott's video 'read these roads', and watching it I am feeling a spark of new inspiration for my own artmaking. Drinking in the words, lapping up the visually intriguing water patterns and shapes that evaporates along with each syllable and nuance of Kai's voice, I am taken to the streets of Cape Town, where Camissa is rushing, wasted, to the sea. The griminess of the tarred roads seem in direct contrast for me to the gentle liquid state of the water. Here's the synopsis for the video:

Fresh water, one of South Africa's scarcest resources, is currently in drastic decline due to climate changes and pollution.  In 2008, a top WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) official called the SA water crisis "a ticking time bomb" waiting to explode. 
The soundtrack of the video is taken from Adderley Street in the Cape Town CBD, above the underground storm water drain where, since 1957, 3 million cubic tons of untapped fresh spring water has run into the sea daily. Underfoot, the now forgotten Varsterivier, among others, is a seminal unacknowledged site of national heritage, one of the rivers which gave Cape Town its original Khoi name: "Camissa", meaning "place of sweet waters".  This was the fresh water that originally drew Portuguese explorers to stop at the Cape on their journey to India, and set in motion the colonisation of the region and the conflicts that followed. 
Natural time versus city time is emphasized in this stop frame animation, intended as a projection on the floor.  Water dries in time lapse photography on the pavement.  Running in and out of drains and gutters, it spreads into tentative images, which evaporate as they morph into other shapes.  These forms hint at the living systemic relationship between Table Mountain's hydrology systems, the City of Cape Town's water system and the biological systems of the human body.  In contrast with the evaporation (a metaphor for both waste and scarcity), a mysterious tunnel world of abundant water is periodically glimpsed beneath the streets.  With many of our rivers now being the equivalent of drains, re-claiming the symbolic power of the river under Adderley Street confronts us with an emotional connection we have lost.  This is the link to life-centred awareness, currently the most critical challenge to Western culture, with its legacy of human-centredness. "read these roads" is a video poem of unfulfilled desire for a personal relationship with the natural world.  
In association with Reclaim Camissa -
For more visual art and poetry by Kai Lossgott, visit

Friday, March 7, 2014

Natural Building courses in 2014

Do you do a lot of sculptural work, installations, land art or outdoor work? Ever thought of using natural building techniques as part of your creative work? Well, if you're interested, here is your chance to learn some of the techniques you can use!

Natural Building Collective
Peter McIntosh will be hosting a series of courses at Magic Mountains, near Barrydale. These will include:

21 – 23 March: Compost toilet workshop
10 – 18 May: Natural building course: materials and techniques
9 – 11 August: Pizza oven workshop
18 – 25 October: Natural building course: materials and techniques

For more information email

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Sapling a Day

I just read this amazing story, shared in the latest Ethical Co-Op newsletter. It illustrates how much can be done just by doing one positive thing every day, or every week - consistently we can make small changes that amount to something much bigger than we could even imagine right now.

The year was 1979, and a teenager in India saw the floods come, with trees uprooted and hundreds of dead animals littering the banks. He had already noticed the reduction in migratory birds, and the village elders told him that this was due to deforestation. Animals lost their homes and birds had less wild lands to visit. They suggested he plant trees to help reduce the damage. 
And plant trees he did. Every day for 34 years he has planted trees, and the area has been transformed into a lush forest of 550 hectares, supporting wild elephants, tigers, deer and rhino. Watering the newly-planted saplings was quickly impractical, so he designed bamboo platforms for each tree, holding earthen pots with small holes, which would slowly drip down quenching the thirst of the young saplings. With the initial forest now sustainable, he is now planting another forest of 150 hectares.  
 Too many of us look at the scope of the challenges or the long journey ahead, wonder what we alone can do, and, discouraged, fail to even start. But making a difference is easy really. Just aim in the right direction, and start walking. Time takes care of all the rest.


Tthe Ethical Co-Op delivers organic and ethical food and produce weekly to the Cape Town and surrounding areas. They deliver door-to-door or to convenient pickup points, and also courier a selection of their products countrywide. Check them out at