Walls that speak oceans
A blue wash of acrylic paint seeps into a sea-battered concrete wall. The roller slides up and another wash changes the first wash of colour. Many washes and the wall is now different. I leave it in its vulnerable state, and it dries. A seagull wonders ‘what’s new?’ This space feels different. Subtle tones of colour have shifted the voice of the wall, it has a new story to tell.
I return. I have a batch of tools; am ready. Some runners appear and shout ‘thank you for the work you do’ as they pass. Sound of ocean is the soundtrack; these walls are my office today. I honour the aliveness in this wall and observe the changes in this space. The sand has been drawn back by the ocean’s tide and revealed rocks I hadn’t seen before. A plastic sucker stick had been left behind, now wedged in its new home. Some kids ask, ‘Lady are you painting?’
Nudibranchs: tiny magical absurd creatures. I didn’t even know they existed before. I’m learning their names and their superhero powers. An ease-full flow of thoughts pass through. Care for this incredible world. Connection to Nature, we are Nature. Billions of species helped to create this ecosystem that we use as a backdrop to play out our dramas. This beautiful and blessed Earth. The Mother who nurtures and sustains us. While I paint, I listen to what the wind has to say as it blows in from the south; it has messages. My dramas seem tiny in comparison to the perfection of this tiny, weird creature that puts me in my place as it appears 120 times its actual size on the wall in front of me.
I contemplate many things. Connecting and collaborating with people who care about these things, the value of the natural world, our responsibility to protect it and active involvement. Working with others to share the understandings of what it means to be a citizen from different perspectives. To have the gift of pushing bare feet into the sand and feel instant ocean connectedness to the vastness of this water body, as the oceans edge wraps ankles in thrills of refresh. And I can’t not pick up that broken polystyrene cup. Once useful, maybe for only a moment, now discarded, it creeps me out to know it’s going to breakdown into teeny pieces and choke my new trippy underwater friends. And they will die.
TBCO has made visible a super important interface between humans and nature. We are all to blame for the role we play in the insanity of ‘normal’ life. But when I’m picking up that broken cup, chip packet or used nappy, I feel like my actions are helping. It feels like it does make a difference and that otherworldly creature can rest easier knowing it won’t die today of micro plastic inhalation. That creature reveals itself on the wall and stands strong. A public wall, thousands of people will pass. It can tell its own story in its strength of presence. It will have its own life long after I’ve left this site and I trust it does. Questions of a curious mind will bubble up and maybe a book or website is opened or at least a conversation. The humans who notice the stories on the walls wonder many things.
My collaboration with TBCO has allowed me to paint Locals on St James Beach, Nudi’s on the walkway from Muizenberg and species stencils at the tidal pools of Glen Cairn and Camps Bay. The Lunar Tides asked to be painted in the special cove of Surfer’s Corner: backdrop to the monthly New Moon clean ups. The moons bring awareness to the strong feminine energy felt at this entry point into the ocean with guardian rocks who have been there so much longer than us. Water medicine ceremony, daily meditations of cleansing and spirit family connection, coming of age and baptism rituals, are some of the women-led occurrences that I’ve seen happen here. These walls hold space for it all and Toni Giselle Stuart’s poetry secures its beauty-filled and strong presence: her words painted onto the wall by many feminine hands on one blessed sunrise.
I’ve been assisted and encouraged by TBCO volunteers and the HC360 Crew to which I belong. HC360 is a graffiti crew, embedded in HIP HOP and indigenous culture, bringing colour, changing spaces, inspiring minds and connecting hearts. The Crew works together to paint murals across the Mother City: //Hui !Gaeb, Cape Town and beyond. Working together helps to make things happen and makes for a richer experience. Honouring walls and sites as points of time and manifestation, I have much gratitude for the opportunity to be an artist. The walls will lead the way and over painting time, reveal their stories and messages of the combined potentials of creativity, science, ecology, public art and citizenship.
About the author:
Claire Homewood (CareCreative) is a Cape Town born artist based in Muizenberg, Cape Town. She is inspired by wild nature and the importance of environmental concerns. Her projects are aligned with the values she cares about – resilience, participation, nurturing integrated, healthy environments & people. Care works between scientists, environmentalists, educators, researchers, and communities to create visual bridges and interactive platforms. She uses creativity to have conversations around important topics, co-designing and painting public murals.
Find her on Instagram @carecreative__