Monday, May 19, 2014

The Being-Green-Guide: #1 Food, Shopping and You

Being 'green' is more than just using plastic packaging as containers to mix your paint, or recycling your waste paper. It's also more than just trying to save water or fitting energy-saving lightbulbs in your home. It is also about living green in everything you are doing, such as walking or cycling to the shops and getting your statements and bills online, and changing your personal hygiene products.

Food is used as comfort and is used as main activity in social get-togethers, whether a pre-exhibition dinner, celebratory event or normal Sunday braai. More importantly, we also need food to survive. Whether you eat big meals, or graze in-between working in your studio, food is an integral part of our daily life, which makes it a good place to start when living sustainably. Food doesn’t need to be boring, limited or expensive to be sustainable.

FOOD #1.1 - Check the Packaging

Look at the packaging of the things you buy. Packaging forms a large part of living sustainably. Most of us are already aware that plastic is toxic for the environment, but so is polystyrene. Unfortunately these are used plentiful in vegetable packaging. Try to avoid these packaging by rather buying fresh produce from farmers markets or buy the fruits and vegetables packaged in boxes. Or join a vegetable box scheme, such as:
  • Ethical Co-Op has a veggie box as part of their very large selection of ethical and organic produce and products:
  • Havest of Hope delivers to many collection points in and around Cape Town:
  • Think Organic also delivers veggie boxes in the Cape Town area:
  • Wensleydale Farms have an organic vegetable box scheme with collection points in Johannesburg:
  • Have a look at the many initiatives or projects offered by the Organic Emporium in Bryanston:
  • In KZN, Earthmother Organic offers vegetable boxes at their market on Tuesdays. Alternatively you can collect a box after you phone in your order. The shop is located at 106 Bulwer Rd, Glenwood 031 202 1527
  • Timberlake, close to Sedgefield and Knysna, also has a box scheme and you can choose which veggies should go into your box:
  • Contact Dovehouse Farm Organics in Howick, for weekly veg boxes delivered to Howick and Hilton, and trading early Saturday morning at Pietermaritzburg farmers market., tel 033 330 3554 or 082 868 4517
When it comes to milk and drinks, if you can’t find box or glass bottled versions, then what you’re buying is probably not worth putting into your body anyway. Again, be wary of what glass and boxes are used, as some are recyclable but others are not. It would be best to look properly at the packaging before buying.
Also read Life in Balance's "10 ways to re-use garbage", and check out all our posts on this blog about art from waste.

This is one of a series of posts, written by Michelle Albinson, that deal with turning your lifestyle around to being as fully eco-friendly as possible in easy and do-able ways.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Art of Water

Do you really think about water issues when you turn on your tap? We all know we need water and we know there are places where lack of clean water (or any water) is a problem. Some of us have even heard about the prediction that in around eleven years we might be out of clean water to the extent where 56% is the full amount the demand will exceed the supply. In other words half the world will be suffering from lack of (clean) water and a staggering amount of people will die.

This is not a happy thought, but it cannot be ignored. Art for Water is an organisation that is taking the initiative to make fun projects for any kind of audience, as long as they are willing and able to learn. Sadly they are not locally based, but it doesn’t mean we cannot learn from them and their action-taking.

Why Should We Care

These days it is not enough to tell people not to waste water. When you live in close proximity to other people in an apartment building, you cannot help but hear the amount of water being wasted. Bathtubs are endlessly being filled up more than once a day and hardly used except to wash a few clothing pieces before another bathtub is filled up. Taps are constantly running as someone brushes her teeth and washes her face, no idea about the heavy impact that has on humans around her.

Yes, this is not a “save the earth” call, but a “save the humans” call. People are dying from diseases they get from drinking dirty water and we, living with clean water in our very taps, often think of it as “not my problem”.

This is where Art for Water comes in, as they work with clever, creative plans to make people, like us, aware of the damage, issues and troubles surrounding water. They give people the opportunity to express water in an artistic form in order to make a difference.

What They Do

Art for Water helps people to set up a learning opportunity. Since those “let’s use less water” talks don’t work as effectively as they may have helped earlier, they use other methods. They turn the learning opportunity into a project filled with dance and musical performances, exhibitions of different kinds, readings and many more. Age doesn’t matter, as you’re never too old or too young to learn.

Art for Water creates a stage for people to create their artwork, whether it is for a private event or for a school. They form a unique bond between like-minded people and maybe even make artists aware of other artistic opportunities.

Your Challenge

Where the opportunity offered by Art for Water is out of bounds for most of us, because of location and locality, it can still act as motivation and inspiration to do something big and unique. As artists we have the ability to think out of the box and to use very little to make a big impact.

Your current GREEN YOUR ART challenge is to create an artwork about water.

Your artwork can be a performance, painted piece, land art or any kind of art form you would like to bring to life. The goal of this artwork is to move individuals into realisation and active change. Send your artwork pictures to artlovenature@gmail to be featured on this blog! The deadline is on 30 June 2014.

For more information of Art for Water, visit their website at

Monday, May 5, 2014

Join the Land Art conversation!

Anni Snyman (co-ordinator of Site_Specific) has just arrived back from South Korea after a three week Nature Art tour as part of the Global Nomadic Art Project (GNAP) which culminated in an exhibition on the 1st of May 2014, Geumgang Nature Art Centre.

Twenty nine artists, critics, and supporting staff travelled around the southern parts of Korea, working in the field using natural materials and their bodies as they went. The trip was a pilot project for similar ventures in Asia 2015, Africa & Middle East 2016, Europe 2017, and America 2018. Invited members included Ko Seung-hyun; Ri Eung-woo; Jeon Won-gil; Lee Jae-eun; Ko Soon-ho; Kim Yong-min; Cho Kyu-hyun; Ko Hyun-hie; Jung Jang-Jig; Kwon O-yeol; Park Bong-gi; Kim Soon-im; Choi Yong-sun; Chung Hye-ryung; Hur Kang; Kim Sung-ho; Kim Young-ho; Yoon Jin-sup (South Korea) and Zhang Kai Qin (China); Somu Desai (India); Anni Snyman (South Africa); Mahmud Maktabi (Iran); Rumen Dimitrov (Bulgaria); Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie (UK,Scotland); Alpar Peter (Hungary); Saulius Valius (Lithuania); Diana Radaviciute (Lithuania); Delphine Saurat(France); and Reka Varallyay (Hungary).

Please join us in an online interview and conversation with Anni on the experiences and insights gained. Click ‘going’ to follow the interview, and start posting your questions before Monday 12 May 2014 on the event wall, even if you can’t attend the allocated time slot.  Hopefully some of her fellow travellers will be able to join us ~

GNAP KOREA 2014 with Anni Snyman

One of our key values states: "Embedded within all it’s activities, Site_Specific holds education as it’s key role, aiming to influence minds and paradigms around issues of environment, community, culture, and artistic practice.”

Please join the conversation!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Windpump that Teaches Us Innovation

Today was one of those days where innovation, creativeness and uniqueness were everywhere to be found, even in the living room. When looking around us, we can often find artwork everywhere. Nature is in itself an artwork, but there are also the manmade artworks. Some of these manmade artworks have a way to surprise people with how simple the idea is, how little things it takes to make and how impressive the outcome is.

Many people are creative, but many people just keep it to their own websites or homes. Yet there are those who take their talent to the streets. When driving around Johannesburg, we often find highly talented dancers, mime artists and others with rather unique talents. Innovative art can also be found in Hartebeespoort Dam, on the way there and within it at the well-visited Chameleon Village. And then.... there are those artists who dwell in the 'other' nearby towns - Parys, Sasolburg, Vaalpark and Vanderbijlpark. These towns hold unique places, events and artwork. It was in Vanderbijlpark that I found a specific little gem of inspiring innovation.

A particular man was selling a 'windpomp'; an object of admiration for several people who were taking it apart to see how he managed to create it. The main parts of the pump were simply crafted from a tin. The rest was skilfully done with strong, thick wire. The bird that is so happily sitting in front of the tap, waiting for its water, was craftily made from a fallen conifer cone (better known as a pine cone). This is an artwork that took a lot of skill and time, but little resources.

There are plenty of tins lying around and many of nature’s own little pieces, which make this a financially practical and environmentally friendly artwork. It's impossible not to have respect for the way struggling or less fortunate people can often come up with the most innovative and unique ideas. We can all learn from their resourcefulness and about how not to waste, rather using and re-using what is available to us at the time. They don’t run to the shops the moment they don’t have canvas, they create their own canvas with what they see around them.

Look for your next artwork around your house, around your street and in your dustbin. You might find your light-bulb moment in something as simple as a dirty tin and some wire. This can be considered as proof that you can never say you’re too poor to make art. Art is inventing, art is seeing potential even in unlikely places.

Further browsing - some more links for Art from Waste:

IDEA: Art Gardens

The Mud Man and Moss Maiden - source

I've been following the blog Gardens in unexpected places, and always admire the innovation, creativity and ingenuity of people in other countries, planting food gardens in public spaces, as well as improving urban areas through guerilla gardening.

Closer to home, in Jozi, we've got Linzi Lewis, a.k.a.  leading an urban gardening revolution that not merely improves spaces, but also connects people to each other, their culture and the environment in which they work and play. Read more about the project:


One of the best ways to eat healthy, GMO-free, organic vegetables, is to grow your own. Check out Square Foot Gardening: Now, how about using your considerable creativity and skills as an artist to create an Art Garden?

As an artist you have skills that you have developed that could result in something really unique!

Garden, installation at Lockport Gallery, Illinois State Museum, Illinois by Michelle Stone. Source.
contextual art installation by Anouk Vogel and Johan Selbing. Source

You don't need to be a qualified landscaper or horticulturist to create a garden. Ask someone who loves gardening to teach you the basics, read some library books, browse the web for countless articles and guides about gardening, or learn through trial-and-error.


You don't need to have an architectural degree to plan or build something. If you don't know how to use the materials, learn how to, join a workshop or find an artist who specializes in the materials or techniques you need to create an art garden.


What's stopping you? Start now! Don't have your own garden? Why not create a balcony, vertical garden or indoor garden? Or start an urban garden in your neighbourhood? The sky is your limit!