NO more than four kilometres from the Mother City or two train stations away, some exotic and indigenous animals have been captured and donated to the inhabitants of Salt River and visitors to the area by generous donors from across the world.
Unfortunately, the location of these beautiful animals and some amazing greenery are not well known and many of us will pass by or through the area without even noticing them – a sad commentary on how preoccupied we are with the mundane and the ordinary that is what used to be known as the rat race.
In fact, I rode right past a bokkie and some dassies without noticing them although they were not completely hidden by the bluish, grassy surrounds.
I was on my way to visit some friends in Salt River as I was not willing to dodge my way through peak hour traffic to get home.
I saw my friend Nadia, a tourist guide, chatting to a neighbour and she mentioned that she was getting the opinions of people in the area about the murals that were being painted in the neighbourhood.
She offered to drive me around and point out where the murals are.
I was impressed. Although not done, the work I saw was beautiful.
The murals are part of the annual International Public Art Festival – the second of its kind – organised by Baz Art, a local, non-government organisation. This year’s theme was ‘nature doesn’t need us, we need nature’, which is beautifully illustrated by the murals.
The story behind the mural of the Khoisan boy with the umbrella referred to on the front page is a local artist’s comment on how civilisation has encroached on nature, destroying it and causing the current situation of drought and even global warming.
According to the artist, Care One Love, from Muizenberg, the Khoisan live in harmony with nature and regard water as sacred. In the painting, instead of using the umbrella to shield himself from the rain, the boy uses it to catch the now scarce resource.
A few blocks away, almost in celebration of local humour, one of the ‘Kaapse klopse’ (Cape minstrels) is depicted with one of the now common five-litre containers of water clutched behind his back.
In another road, Nadia pointed out a man on a ladder, armed with a roller and paint. But he was not one of the artists, he was the owner of the house where another mural was being planned. He was preparing the wall for the artist.
In conversation with him, I learnt that not all the residents were in favour of having murals in the area. He admitted that he had been approached the year before and did not give them permission to use his wall.
One of the reservations some of the Muslim residents have concerns paintings of people and faces.
Other residents are concerned about what they consider to be graffiti and the effect it would have on the value of their properties. However, more and more residents are starting to appreciate the artworks.
Take a drive around Salt River and see if you can find some of the treasures I’m enthusing about.
Oh, what about the poets in the title, you ask. Well, a number of the streets in Salt River are named after poets – and some of the artworks are to be seen in streets named Pope, Kipling, Dryden, Shelley and Swift.