In April, a group made up of some of the freshest street artists from Durban occupied Durban ICC to paint a 30x6m mural ahead of the annual Africa Travel Indaba. The planning and design phase took over a year as the artists grappled with the brief and went through a number of potential designs in order to comply with the ICC’s strict safety regulations.
An eclectic and talented group of visual artists came together to design the mural – these artists include Mook Lion, Kev Seven, Sphephelo Mnguni and Sheldon Windrim in collaboration with photographers Samora Chapman and Kevin Goss-Ross who specialize in capturing portraits of local people.
The mural design is set on the Durban beachfront – one of the most inclusive and vibrant spaces in South Africa. It depicts a variety of local people, who represent different cultural backgrounds, all enjoying the tropical sunshine in their own way – fishing, swimming or skateboarding down the promenade.
The design captures the SA Tourism ethos ‘We do tourism’ by showing how ordinary people take part in the tourism industry – because it is the people that are the foundation of the city. The design is playful and humorous, inspired by the laid-back vibe of our coastal city, which is what makes it so
successful as a holiday destination.
From bananas, a cornerstone of the local economy, to fish swimming in the sky and iconic flora – it’s a visual celebration of real Mzansi life. The robot is a comical way of representing industry and the Zulu beadwork is an important cultural reference – and a traditional art-form that still inspires us as modern artists.
The mural is site-specific but also draws on a broader South African context. The design is intended to be fun, youthful and progressive, with imagery that references the Instagram generation and a funky street art aesthetic.
Sphephelo Mnguni is one of Durban’s most talented young painters and multi-media artists. His portraits are unique and powerful – capturing a nuanced vision of his subjects, who are often people from the local creative scene.
He studied a B.Tech in Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology, graduating in 2017, and has been pursuing a career as a full-time artist ever since. He’s exhibited at the KZNSA, Other Room Gallery and the Bat Centre, he has also worked on a number of major murals across the city, particularly in collaboration with fellow artist Mook Lion.
Mook Lion is a Durban street art pioneer and his style is wild, childlike and expressive. When you look at his graffiti pieces you feel like you’re being sucked into a carnival – his technique is naïve and his use of colour and texture is vibrant. He has adapted a linocut technique and applied it to his murals and street art. Lino-cut has a strong tradition in South African art-making, adding context and meaning to his big public murals.
He recently completed his Masters in Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology, investigating street art and mural art as examples of social activism with the use of Durban as a case study. His study was practice-led
with the aim of producing site-specific and socially conscious artwork in the public domain.
Kev Seven is one of Durban’s most prominent and prolific street artists. His style is rooted in a classic New York graffiti aesthetic – with funky letters and stylized portraits being his speciality.
He has a Diploma in Fine Art/Animation/Graphic Design and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English, Media and Cultural Studies. His BA degree has helped him elevate the message behind his artwork and also lead to opportunities to get involved in various other creative industries.
Hailing from the East coast of South Africa and currently operating out of London, Fiya One is a multi-disciplinary artist that produces large scale, powerful murals and graffiti pieces.
His style has evolved over the years, from traditional graffiti to op art, and more recently, he has been exploring a surrealist aesthetic.
Fiya expressed that the We Do Tourism mural is inspired by the ecology, economy, architecture and culture of Durban – the sunniest place to be.