Waterfront partners with local artists to produce festive decor

Bishop Tarambawamwe from Master Wire and Bead Craft, a tenant in the Watershed at the Waterfront, also participated in the Joy from Africa to the World programme.

As the V&A Waterfront gears up for the festive season, it is once again partnering with local artists and crafters to present a visual spectacle of décor installations that will give visitors a local welcome.

Joy from Africa to the World, now in its fourth year, aims to call visitors and tenants to act responsibly and safeguard the environment. This year the call-to-action is built around the theme of nostalgia, reflecting a moment in time when the world is yearning for a return to happy, simpler times.

Through this initiative, the Waterfront will continue to shun traditional imported tinsel and baubles and plastics for its festive decorations, which so often end up in landfill sites, choosing instead to creatively re-purpose and present fresh, original installations every year.

Since 2019, artists and crafters from Langa, ImiZamo Yethu, Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Philippi, and from as far afield as the Karoo, the Eastern Cape, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Senegal have all accepted commissions to work with local, sustainable materials.

Since its inception, the project has created 155 jobs and supported many small local craft businesses, the majority of which are owned by women.

The NPO beneficiaries the Waterfront worked with includes the Cape Town Society for the Blind (CTSB) in Salt River, and New Crossroads Can in Nyanga.

Joy from Africa to the World has also supported young graphic designers and artists and this year, 24 individuals, organisations and small businesses have participated in the creation of the theme.

The V&A Waterfront’s marketing executive, Tinyiko Mageza, said they provide financial support to the many individuals and communities who create the installations, but by exhibiting their work on the Waterfront’s property, they are also offered a “powerful“marketing platform.

This year, activations will be in place from December, and will remain up until mid-January 2023.

“The emphasis of our celebration is on nostalgia. We have drawn on our past heritage to inspire us in the present, and to give us hope for the future. We believe the displays this year are truly extraordinary and we are certain that visitors will agree,” said Ms Mageza

Cathy Newton, managing director of Wire World in Stikland, said they have been tasked with creating 20 festive African drum pendants and hanging lights showcased at the V&A Watershed for Joy from Africa to the World.

Wire World supports 48 staff members who focus on African hand-crafted décor and lighting.

The campaign had moved away from last year’s basketry to showcase Africa’s heritage of innovative textiles and pattern design, and this year’s display has bursts of bright colours indicative of a more hopeful future.

The theme for 2022 is “where possibilities take flight” , and artwork portraying this will be displayed in the walkway above the Pick n Pay basement – a giant hot air balloon suspended from the ceiling with books and soft toy people leaping out of it. A number of colourful beaded creatures can also be spotted parachuting out of the balloon.

The basket section of the hot air balloon was created by the CTSB.

Veronica Plonk, chief executive officer of CTSB, said that the hot air balloon is completely handmade with a large cane-woven square basket. “We have eight to 10 staff members who are working on this special project using raw cane materials.”

She said some of the staff members are completely blind and some partially blind, and are taught to weave during an 18-month programme.

She said this project took 10 days to complete.

The Victoria and Alfred mall will also sport a display of textiles printed in unique patterns and designs which have been combined with beading, paper maché, lights and other crafts made by local designers and illustrators.

Illustrator Kyle Kemink from Johannesburg has been commissioned to create a photographic collage of the experiences, emotions and moments at the V&A Waterfront.

He said working on a project on the scale of Joy from Africa as a freelancer has been an amazing career opportunity.

About the artwork, he said he wanted to produce a cohesive illustrative piece showing different people coming together for a shared experience. “To me it represents this sense of childish wonder inherent in being in a place that feels larger than life, as well as this panoramic view of the micro and macro moments of magic synonymous with the neighbourhood.”

Lamps in the making for the festive decor.

In the walkway above the Woolworths basement, custom patterns printed on panels will be interwoven with wire suns, beaded lettering and lampshades.

The creative direction for Joy from Africa to the World was led by Platform Creative. The creative director, Cathy O’Clery, said this year was taking the journey further to showcase creativity and contemporary expression of joy from across the continent by exploring the wonderful world of pattern and textiles.

“We are engaging with people working with nostalgic African heritage crafts but bringing their creations into modern-day design and showing the endless possibility of creativity.”

Tenants at the Watershed have also participated by creating a display of colourful rope-like chandeliers.

Co-owners of Knot Again, Linnet and Hlah Nyoni, created the macramé structures by weaving recycled T-Shirt material and polyester cord.

One of the tenants, Knot Again’s founder and textile designer Hlah Nyoni, from Durban, said they created the macramé structures by weaving recycled T-Shirt material and polyester cord. “All of our products are handmade using knots.”

She said forming part of this project will expose the business and connect them to greater projects.

The final touch of the festive decor is the iconic giant Christmas tree – the V&A’s giant tree is a collaboration with Lalela in Hout Bay, an arts education programme for at-risk youth, who commissioned their young students to draw self-portraits that will be placed all around it.

Children can also enjoy the Waterfront Wonderland – a fantasy journey through a rocket ship, a sleigh pulled by beaded reindeers, a pirate ship and Father Christmas’ own festive taxi.