South Africa: Art in Public Spaces – Letting Cape Town’s Walls Talk

Muizenberg-based artist Claire Homewood has, for the past two years, been painting a large mural by the St James Tidal Pool in the south peninsula. She believes art in public space is an important source of learning.

Called “Meet the Locals” and featuring a series of portraits of sea creatures, Claire Homewood’s (CareCreative) St James mural is playful and colourful, yet conveys a serious message about the importance of our natural environment. During its creation, it has also become a site of conflicting realities.

On one occasion, an actual octopus came out of the water and, after being chased and caught by a human, managed to make its way along the beach, past the wall that displayed its image, and back to the safety of the sea — with a little help from Claire’s crew.

More recently, during the infamously fraught lockdown beach closures, Claire and her team had a run-in with law enforcement. Claire’s process when creating such a mural includes close community engagement and participation, storytelling, and a considered effort to connect with indigenous Khoisan knowledge. To that end, her team invited a traditional chief to bless the mural. As Chief Bi’a Kingsley laid out his things on…


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