The project holders
Hand In Hand was founded over the years by two South African brothers born in the township of Motherwell, about fifteen kilometres from the large industrial city of Port Elizabeth.
Passionated, attentive, optimistic and committed to their community, these two artists are a real source of inspiration for anyone who is lucky enough to walk through their door.
The genesis of the project
As a child, Sakumzi, the older of the two brothers, was a regular guest at the home of his lifelong friend who was lucky enough to have a television in his house. This was not at all the case for the majority of the inhabitants of his village. On his way home, he would draw, for hours on end, the scenes he had seen in the afternoon for his little brother (Msindisi) and his little sister.
It is there that a real passion was born in him, a desire to inspire and embellish the life of his city through his works. Unfortunately, his mother (who raised him alone), his teachers and even his community were not happy with this new artistic spirit.
He found the strength to continue in the lack of support and understanding of his loved ones. To this day, he still speaks with emotion about this difficult period during which he was left to his own devices, during which everyone around him pushed him to give up his dreams.
In 2012, he will convert part of his small green house, which now houses eight people, into a full-length workshop. He and his little brother join forces and together they create paintings and sell them to nearby museums. But this creation is only the first step in a process that is now making Motherwell Township shine.
Hand In Hand is initially an art gallery where local children can find inspiration, practical lessons and support.
In Sakumzi's workshop, brushes, canvases and numerous objects serving as models decorate the wooden benches. Colourful and varied paintings decorate every little corner of the walls of the house.
The paintings of the village children who come, as much as they want, to practice freely in the two brothers' home, decorate each of the walls of the Art Walk corridor. They can ask questions but will not be guided by the artists who hold firmly in the expression of the individual through art.
Very conscious of the ecological stakes that threaten the sustainability of the township in which they grew up, the founders of Hand In Hand thought of a way to combine their passion and the preservation of their environment. Two projects were born out of this reflection:
- In 2014, Sakumzi and Msindisi salvaged abandoned old barrels, originally intended to run electrical pipes under houses, dragged them to the front of their homes and painted them. On these large tubes are big heads, crying and laughing, in homage to Mandela's passage through the township in 1990.
- After several months of awareness raising, collecting and painting, they, with the help of children from nearby schools, transformed a large field of abandoned garbage in the middle of the township into a colourful and enjoyable playground. The flower pots on the sides of this field are completely upcycled, all the waste has been collected, sorted and reused, medicinal herbs have been planted to revive the vegetation on this trampled space, the back wall has been cleared of the impressive amount of waste that was hiding it, and painted by the two brothers' pupils. This place has become the heart of the township, a place of attraction that attracts tourists, but also the inhabitants of neighbouring towns. Aware of this, the community has become involved and regularly brings the waste collected to Sakhumzi to be transformed into pieces of art.
«I believe that mutual aid and the power of art are the pillars of the preservation of our environment» Sakumzi.
This project is a human, ecological and social project. Indeed, from an ecological point of view, this initiative reduces the amount of waste present in the township and encourages the community to transform the packaging in order to give it a second life.
From a social point of view, the two brothers, who have suffered from a lack of support and inspiration, pass on their knowledge and push the underprivileged children living in Motherwell to believe in their talent and persevere. Finally, from a human point of view, Hand In Hand tends to change the image of this poor and unattractive space into a colourful, lively and attractive place.