Express News

White horse inspires project

Vryfestival Foto:

THIS year, everyone has the chance to be part of a unique project at the Vrystaat Arts Festival.

The inspiration for the White Horse Project came two years ago when Australian Jess Olivieri, artist of the Parachutes for Ladies Project, became aware of the fascinating image of a horse on Naval Hill in Bloemfontein.

Olivieri’s work is known for involving performances, sound, video, dance and installation art. These elements work together to examine the influence of social and cultural factors on our world.

After researching Naval Hill’s white horse last year, she eventually came up with a concept that would involve the community and inspire people to think differently. This project will create room for all the variants of stories concerning the hotly-disputed origin of the sleeping giant against the hill.

Much like with the Uffington White Horse in Britain, the exact origin and history of the Bloemfontein horse is mere speculation.

Many believe the depiction made of stones was created during the Anglo-Boer War as a beacon for the British cavalry, which was stationed nearby.

Others say the white horse was created in the image of the horse Thabure – “annihilator of the enemies” – that belonged to Chief Lerotholi, grandson of King Moshoeshoe, founder of the Basotho tribe.

Still other variants of the story exist, such as the myth that the horse steps forward every time someone kisses on Naval Hill – and that it can be heard galloping on a Saturday night.

Set in the midst of the contested nature of Bloemfontein’s white horse, this project allows for a creative take on the past.

Set against this backdrop, the White Horse Project will create new mythologies which, in turn, will become the essence of a radical dream for the future.

In the run-up to the festival, various community workshops will be held to perfect vocals, music and other artforms.

According to Ricardo Peach, director of the festival, the highlight of the project will be the procession through Raymond Mhlaba Street (the old Andries Pretorius Street) on Sunday, 12 July. This parade will culminate in community performances of choirs and poetry recitation at the foot of the white horse. Peach says the goal of the project is to create a new community mythology centering around the white horse.

He believes it is important that new relationships be built and that Bloemfontein locals discover new ways of interacting socially. Braai fires will be lit and people will have the opportunity to exchange ideas over chesa nyama.

Various people are involved in the project, including costume designer Lesiba Mabitsela and photographer and producer Mandi Bezuidenhout.

According to Peach, a variety of projects have been launched to raise funds for the White Horse Project. Visit the Facebook page Piko/Piad Community for more information.

) Olivieri will host workshops that include courses in the processes of design and creation. Other workshops will also be hosted across Bloemfontein.

Within certain guidelines, participants are allowed to make their own costumes, masks and instruments.

The outfits will be made from blankets, cloth and recycled material.

The following workshops will be hosted by Pacofs in First Avenue:

) 20 June: 13:30 to 16:30;

) 23 June: 18:00 to 20:00;

) 27 June: 13:30 to 16:30;

) 30 June: 18:00 to 20:00;

) 4 July: 13:30 to 16:30;

) 7 July: 18:00 to 20:00; and

) 11 July: 13:30 to 16:30.

The focus will be on the making of masks from 29 June to 5 July and the making of instruments from 6 to 12 July.

) Follow Volksblad (Express’s parent publication) for more information and details about information that will be made available on social media.

) Direct inquiries about the project or workshops to Bezuidenhout on 079-894-8706 or send an email to

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