We recently had the privilege and pleasure of hosting fifteen Grade 5 & 6 kids from the Lalela project on an outing to see Woodstock’s graffiti. LALELA (la·le·la) v.: A Zulu word that means ‘to Listen’. If you haven’t heard of them, not to worry. Lalela is an amazing arts education non-profit in Cape Town.
‘Lalela provides educational arts for at-risk youth to spark creative thinking and awaken the entrepreneurial spirit. Everyday after-school, in the hours when children are most vulnerable to abuse of every kind, the Lalela team work to break the barriers of challenge. They start early (age 6) in developing the art of imagination and continue through grade 12 to connect the arts to everything important in a child’s life, from core academics to critical life skills.’
As most of the children have never really left their community or been to the city, we were asked to assist in putting together a fun and inspirational Graffiti tour of Woodstock.
Woodstock’s graffiti tour
At if i could… we usually have a biweekly outing with our interns in Cape Town. As we have a really mixed group at the moment, we invited them to join us to allow both the children and our interns to bond and learn a little more about the each other’s different cultures.
They all arrived at our offices for a quick lunch and introduction. And then we set off on Woodstock’s graffiti tour.
The organised tours usually start at the Woodstock Exchange. The Exchange used to be a major factory but was converted into a mall/eatery/office space. They then meander through the streets in roughly a 2km radius highlighting specific artists and their work, and the symbolism behind these.
We aimed to do a similar route to the tours, but added in a booklet of featured art pieces to make it fun and interactive for the children.
Lower Woodstock happens to be seen as Cape Town’s creative hub. This area is home to film, design, music and animation studios, craft and artisan workshops, couture fashion, antique furniture, and of course, street art. Woodstock’s wall art is world-class. Artists have come from all over the world to do murals. We are lucky enough to have our if i could… offices in amongst all of these.
Five years ago, Woodstock used to be a no-go zone because most people that live in this community come out of a situation of oppression and hardship. Sadly many people have been through severe problems in the area. So the community use the art to inspire people and to encourage all to come into the area and to feel free.
There are artists from all over the world that have been visiting and doing a piece, leaving their mark behind to the community and to the world. Some of the international artists’ work you will see are:
- German artist Urbanski and Canadian Elicser. Their piece shows an actual timeline of Woodstock’s history, from left to right where Woodstock was a beach, years back.
- The rhino is done by Binho, an artist from Brazil.
- An artist by the name of Cern from Bronx, in New York.
- An artist from London, called Dodiboy and then Boa Mistura, a group of five Madrid artists
And then, of course, the wealth of talented local known and unknown artists, giving back to the community through art. The most inspirational would be that of the local children carving designs into a wooden door in hope of someday becoming famous themselves. Then there is Jack Fox, the 17yr old son of well-known street artist Faith47.
The meaning of art
Many of you may ask: Why has the art been put on the walls? Well, it is to symbolize and let you as an individual know that each art piece is specifically giving a positive message. By doing so, they are also trying to bring different communities together.
The Lalela kids were incredibly special: such a zest for life! They were singing and dancing and literally bouncing around the streets pointing out their favourites. In addition, they were taking selfies with the booklet we had created for them when they found the particular artist’s work and just soaking up being out and about on an adventure in the middle of Cape Town.
We ended off the day with the kids playing in one of the local parks. I think it is safe to say that we all left the day feeling inspired and with a warmer heart than before. There really is nothing more special than the smile of a child having fun.