V&A Waterfront Steps Up Creativity

In the spirit of Design Capital 2014, visitors to the V&A Waterfront’s Clocktower precinct will find themselves literally stepping into a bright and colourful space.

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The Clocktower steps were transformed with a colourful N’debele-styled design by a group of enthusiastic students from Hout Bay. The youngsters spent two days during their school holidays painting the steps in a kaleidoscope of colour.

The students are all involved in the Lalela Project which provides educational arts for youth affected by extreme poverty, in order to spark creative thinking and awaken an entrepreneurial spirit. By providing year round arts education to children in grades one through to twelve, the Project drives positive social change while providing a safe space for the youngsters to interact after school and during holiday periods.

The V&A Waterfront previously collaborated with the Lalela Project for Mandela Day 2013, when the students painted a mural on a shipping container that was converted into a library in Nelson Mandela’s honour.

Carla White, Spokesperson for the V&A Waterfront said, “This project forms part of a bigger story that includes place making, philanthropy and community involvement.”

“Place making views the spaces between buildings as equally important as the buildings themselves, which is central to the Waterfront’s development strategy. Bringing spaces such as the historic Clocktower precinct to life and making them appealing to the public also forms part of our commitment to the Design Capital 2014 concept.”

“Our vision for the Clocktower district is to become a vibrant backyard where Capetonians and visitors of all ages can mingle comfortably with one another while they experience the energy of being in a working harbour and a living heritage site.”

Lalela Project Facilitator and Team Leader Husain Essop said of their creative steps “Our inspiration came from the N’debele tradition. Instead of painting these patterns inside their homes, they paint them on the outside to represent who they are and to highlight to others that they belong to the N’debele tradition.

“We were very excited and honoured to tackle this project as we felt that the steps and the space needed colour; a mural representing African culture and art was thus chosen as the best option for the painting of the steps. We also avoided faces because people would be walking on the mural. The unique shapes and colours invite people to walk on them. We also wanted to create a space which people can use as a backdrop for photos representing their presence in Africa in a unique and memorable manner.”

Explaining the Waterfront’s overall vision, White said the aim is to transform the area from a thoroughfare to a place that gives people meaningful and engaging opportunities to dwell; to encourage a sense of community in this area through the initiatives between the buildings; to create opportunities for people to reconnect with the water (part of our broader strategy of being a benchmark waterfront) and to create new connection points with other areas of the V&A Waterfront.

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