Waterfront spreads joy from Africa with festive decor

The giant hot air balloon is a feature at the Joy from Africa to the World festive decor display.

The V&A Waterfront officially launched its Joy from Africa to the World initiative on Tuesday December 6, showing off its African-inspired festive decorations in a walk-about.

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.

The head of marketing at the Waterfront, Tinyiko Mageza stands at the Waterfront Wonderland.

The head of marketing at the Waterfront, Tinyiko Mageza said this year, the festive decorations were a culmination of over eight months of work and a continuation of a question the Waterfront asked itself three years ago – “How can we do better?”

The Waterfront Wonderland at the V&A Mall centre court has a number of installations for children.

She said inclusivity, ethics and sustainability is what drove the project, as well as a chance to democratise the supply chain – in essence, making the circle bigger. “This is about inclusiveness. We wanted our Christmas decorations to represent us as Africa, whether it was through beading, moulding, or textile work.”

She said the Waterfront works with about 200 artists who create the festive decor, which is this year themed “where possibilities take flight”.

In the centre court of the Victoria and Alfred Mall, the Waterfront Wonderland, built for children to enjoy, is a mini version of the Waterfront, highlighting all its activities. “This is our way of honouring children this festive season and allowing them to be free,” said Ms Mageza.

The play area sports a mini version of the Clock Tower, the Jolly Rodger pirate ship, interactive under-the-sea installations, and a book room to encourage imagination.

Creative director Cathy O-Clery stands at the cascading lamp design with African prints.

Creative director of Platform Creative, Cathy O’Clery, who spoke at the giant air balloon installation, said the idea was that books can open the imagination.

The giant air balloon, a collaborative project by different artists was suspended from the ceiling with books and soft toys leaping out of it. A number of colourful beaded creatures can also be spotted parachuting out of the balloon. Ms O’Clery said the idea was that the toy people were throwing out the joy from Africa to the rest of the world.

The cascading “Joy” installation.

She said lampshades and baubles were used in the long hallways to create a festive feel, adding that the baubles were re-used every year.

At another hallway, cascading basketry with lamps, African patterns and the word “Joy” hung from the ceiling.

The giant tree is decorated with self portraits of children.

The giant tree, dubbed the “tree of hope” outside the Waterfront were decorated with self-portraits from pupils at Harold Cressy High School in District Six, Prestwich Street Primary School in Green Point and Salt River High School in Salt River, as well as children from NGO Lalela in Hout Bay, which works with children from under-resourced communities to teach them art skills.

Knot Again’s owners, sister team Hlah and Linnet Nyoni.

First time partners to the Joy from Africa to the World project, Knot Again’s owners, sister team Linnet and Hlah Nyoni created some macramé chandeliers as part of the decorations.

They said forming part of the project taught them different ways of creating work. “We learnt to do so much more stuff, and the exposure this project will bring our business is rewarding.”

The crafters from Monkeybiz are, from left Sheila Maishe, Mathapelo Ngaka-Mtati, Pumla Mramba and Moipone Hlalele, all from Khayelitsha.

Monkeybiz, a crafting organisation in Khayelitsha, had been a partner of Joy from Africa to the World since its inception.

Founder of Monkey Biz, Mathapelo Ngaka-Mtati, said the products created over the years had supported crafters around Cape Town and had made a huge impact on the business by giving them recognition and exposure.

Moipone Hlalele shows off her beading skills.

“The artistic direction on the project helped us explore new festive ideas all the time. This is very uplifting for us.”

The festive decor will be up till mid-January 2023