The inaugural Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans public art project in Africa has left a lasting legacy for ocean conservation and community activism in Cape Town.
PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls South Africa, presented by the Save our Seas Foundation, saw 18 mural artists, including four from overseas, adorn the walls of 16 buildings around the city with powerful works on important ocean topics – from the scourge of plastic pollution to the need for community action to protect ocean livelihoods.
In the lead-up to a week of painting, the artists and visiting team were treated to some of the natural treasures the Cape has to offer. This included watching the sunset from the top of Table Mountain, a visit to the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Centre, swimming in tidal pools, surfing with the Sentinel Ocean Alliance, a beach cleanup at Muizenberg with the Beach Co-op, and a foraging culinary art experience with Veld and Sea.
Shani Judes, Project Director of Sea Walls South Africa, in partnership with SJ Artists and Wavescape, said the 10 day programme was set up not only to give a talented and diverse group of artists a chance to express themselves about the urgent need to protect marine ecosystems, but an important way to celebrate a unique camaraderie that binds us to a common humanity.
“These walls have a lifespan of up to seven years and will serve as a constant reminder to Capetonians and visitors to the Cape of the interconnectedness of all life on our planet, the importance of collaboration in these difficult times, and the vital role of the oceans in sustaining life on Earth,” said Judes.
The co-founders of Pangeaseed, Tré Packard and Akira Biondo, said they were impressed by the natural beauty of the city and the warm welcome of her people.
“This has been a deeply profound experience. We just want to extend a huge word of thanks to the people of Cape Town. Art enthusiasts, ocean stewards, and lovers of the City of Cape Town all showed great support for this initiative and their involvement has been so appreciated. Also, a massive thank you to all the volunteers who helped make this one of the most memorable Sea Walls yet!”
Overseas artists DULK from Spain; Germany’s Yeye Weller; Cracked Ink from New Zealand, and US street artist Lauren YS joined top South African artists Amy Lee Tak, Aweh Migo, Breeze Yoko, Care One, DBongz, Sergical One, Dirty Native, Marie-Louise Koen, Marti Macfly, Motel Seven, SonnySundancer and These10Fingers for the Cape Town activation.
Over the last week, armed with acrylic and spray paints, swing stages or cherry picker cranes, the artists added 18 works to PangeaSeed’s network of more than 500 murals in 19 countries. They worked across a wide area of the Cape Peninsula, including Gardens, Kalk Bay, Newlands, Muizenberg, Sea Point, Camps Bay, Cape Town CBD, and Salt River.
In addition to the interactions with the city for the team, a number of free-to-the-public events included a youth outreach at a local school, a coastal cleanup, and self-guided driving tours to the murals. The public offering culminated in a free community event at Jack Black’s Taproom that featured short film screenings and a panel discussion about the value of art in communicating science and how important this is to the environmental movement.
The murals are designed to be purpose-driven and educational to inspire ocean stewardship through creativity and visual storytelling. Each artwork draws on locally relevant features or issues, as well as historical legacy, or other challenges facing communities.
The words art and activism form the word artivism, a term championed by the Pangeaseed Foundation that talks to its motto, a Drop of Paint can Create an Ocean of Change.
CEO of the Save Our Seas Foundation James Lea said: “Striking art can connect with people in a way that science often struggles with, which is why we’re delighted to collaborate again with Sea Walls and Wavescape to present a stunning array of murals across Cape Town that highlight the majesty of our oceans. Through fostering peoples’ connection with nature, we strive to promote ocean stewards who can help advocate for the health of our oceans.”