Drakenstein tourism gets art boost

From left, are Azhar Goliath, from Violence Protection through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) Konoinia, Godwill Mohau and Ras-marcus Mentoor.

The Drakenstein Local Tourism Association is giving local artists and crafters a boost with an artist development programme, aimed at eventually incorporating emerging community artists into the already established self-guided arts and craft route in Paarl.

Launched with funding from the Drakenstein Municipality, the tourism office has reached out to several artistic local residents to create proudly Paarl products that will be appealing to visitors.

The programme is focused on initiating self-sustainable creative businesses through product, market and business support and training workshops.

According to Annelize Stroebel, CEO of the Paarl wine route, the initiative will assist artists with creative potential and commitment to become sustainable entities that are able to contribute to a unique and diverse creative offering in the tourism sector.

“The Drakenstein region has a proud history of expert craftsmen, and we are committed to continue finding and nurturing local talent. This programme will provide opportunities for emerging artists and crafters to become established and recognised creatives, who are able to contribute to their community, whilst bringing cultural tourism into the area.

“This includes introducing them into networks that could provide potential platforms for showcasing their products and access to new retail markets,” explains Ms Stroebel.

The first step of the programme consisted of an introductory workshop followed by a “Product of Place” course, presented by the Craft and Design Institute of South Africa. The course concentrated on building entrepreneurial and business skills, encouraging location-relevant product development and creating marketable prototypes.

Mosaic artist Godwill Malan was one of the carefully selected participants in the project. This multi-talented artist was born and raised in Paarl.

Since doing art as a subject at school, he has always looked for ways to creatively express himself.

His creative passion resulted in him being selected for a screen printing and cement craft course at the Breytenbach Centre in Wellington, which not only equipped him with new skills, but also saw his work being publicly exhibited in the Garden of Poets, Bordienghuis and the Victoria Jubilee Park in Wellington.

His eye-catching work was awarded when he was nominated for an intensive three-year apprentice bursary at the Spier Arts Academy.

“It was an overwhelming time for me as we studied art history, theory, mathemathics, architectural art through the ages, as well as doing physical work from design to implementation. This course literally opened the world of creative arts to me and I found my calling in mosaic. I discovered that you can interpret almost anything with mosaic and that the potential of the medium is limitless,” says Mr Malan.

His participation in the artist development programme has redirected his creativity in creating more accessible and affordable work, such as household items and garden décor such as stepping stones.

Most recently, Mr Malan has been commissioned by Violence Protection through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) Koinonia to facilitate artwork for the Freedom Park urban development project in Paarl.

Mr Malan and his team have created a memorial wall and benches for this recreational park, which was officially opened this month.

“It was an incredibly rewarding project as this could actually change the landscape of this suburb. I hope that this space will foster a feel of community and unity and provide a positive recreational space for our youth,” says Mr Malan.