The fine art of turning a rubbish dump into a thing of beauty

2016-04-28 11:21
Sakhumzi Nyendwana paints a disused concrete pillar. (Joseph Chirume, GroundUp)

Sakhumzi Nyendwana paints a disused concrete pillar. (Joseph Chirume, GroundUp)

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Port Elizabeth - What started as a simple project two years ago to replace an illegal dump outside their home with attractive eye-catching murals, has opened the doors of success for two Port Elizabeth-based brothers.

Sakhumzi Nyendwana, 30, and Msindisi, 25, were frustrated by people dumping rubbish next to their house in Motherwell.

They lived with their mother and feared she could fall sick as a result of the dump site. Attempts to stop residents dumping their rubbish had failed, and it had grown into an eyesore, where rats and other pests bred.

"The place was smelling unbearably. It attracted large flies, mosquitoes, and rats. Some residents were even dumping dead dogs and cats on the site," said Sakhumzi.

"There are many young children around our house who were vulnerable and could have fallen sick. Our mother's failing health was another contributing factor. I decided to build a mural that would discourage residents from throwing their garbage outside our home."

Armed with a passion for art, but no formal training, Sakhumzi convinced his younger brother to help him build a wall with mural.

"We virtually had nothing to kick-start our project. We collected concrete slabs from various construction sites around Motherwell. We approached our local municipality for help.They gave us huge disused concrete pillars. We bought paint and brushes with the help of our mother's old age grant."

The murals were a great success. Some residents posed for photos and selfies in front of them. Others paid the brothers a small fee to to beautify their brick walls. Orders started coming from local schools and crèches.

"Orders began to flock from curious home owners and crèches who wanted us to paint and write messages on their brick walls. We charge a small fee to cover the cost of paint and transport."

The brothers are planning to transform five other illegal dumps in their area.

"We have identified two public sites and three children’s playgrounds, where we hope to build murals and discourage residents from dumping their garbage."

They were hoping to start soon, if they got money to buy the materials they needed.

Msindisi said the paintings carried contemporary messages, warning against crime, xenophobia, and corruption.

Motherwell is known for its violent crime, high unemployment, and alcohol abuse, mostly among the youth.

"We aim to play our part by discouraging youngsters from taking drugs and committing crime. We aim to encourage them to learn how to draw. We are also hoping to build an art studio or gallery at our house. We however don't have enough money to do so," said Msindisi.

"The gallery will act as a meeting centre where interested youths are taught the skills of drawing. The youngsters could also use the centre to share their skills with each other and get to mingle with visiting tourists."

Msindisi said their paintings - oil on canvas and experiments with scrap metal and cardboard - had been exhibited in galleries such as Gallery Noko, the Port Elizabeth Atheneum, Albany Museum in Grahamstown, and the Port Elizabeth Museum.

They were recently invited to be resident artists at the Atheneum for the next two months.

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  good news

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