(words: Lorraine Tanner / photos: Isa Marques)
The San Clan is starting to take shape, causing much excitement and some serious rumour mongering among the residents of Sutherland. Thanks to the support of Mzansi Golden Economy, an initiative of the Department of Arts and Culture, ten local unemployed people have signed up as apprentices to build the Clan under the training and guidance of Project Lead Nathan Honey and his small band of international volunteers. The team members are learning to use power and hand tools, which will remain in Sutherland as a resource for local income generation as part of a legacy after the Burn.
The youngest participant Jacobus ‘Kobus’ Klein, 19, said: “There has never been anything [here] like this before. When I saw it go up, I didn’t know it was going to be as big. I am happy and proud being part of it, but it is difficult to explain to my friends what I am busy with.” Growing up in Sutherland, Kobus did not learn any art at school.
Quinton Maans, father of three, moved to Sutherland to get away from gangsterism in Kraaifontein. With general handyman skills he picked up some ad-hoc work in the village and settled. He commented “When we put it up…wow! I had seen the picture before, but…wow! All the hard work and now [it’s] going up in smoke! It is art! This experience is nice, we all call each other by name, it sounds strange but I don’t have to say ‘Nathan, Meneer’.”
After a great start erecting the ball, the team battled on through unseasonal rain to complete the wall of the structure ahead of schedule, only to have a devastating whirlwind rip through. Significant damage was caused to ten of the arches. Nathan said: “It was felt that the building of the structure has played a very important part in drawing different sectors of the community together and instilled a great sense of pride in the participants. It was unanimously decided to re-erect the structure, which will be left to stand over the Easter weekend before it is shipped to Tankwa.”
Participant Carolina ‘Koekie’ Prins remarked: “I am surprised something like this is happening in Sutherland. The feedback from other people in town has been very positive, people say it is a good thing.” Koekie says she’s really looking forward to going to the Burn and meeting lots of people but she’s unsure about the San Clan getting torched. “I’m going to decide about how I feel about it when it gets burnt,” she pondered.
This year’s San Clan is one of four projects receiving support from the Department of Arts and Culture to involve marginalised children, youth and adults in creating public art. The other projects are Metamorphosis in Johannesburg, which includes trainees from Alexandra township, the ‘Flamin’ Amazing Show’, a performance art collaboration involving participants from Hanover Park, Ocean View and Masiphumelele and The Mantis Project based mostly at Elandsvlei – the neighbours across the R355 from Tankwa Town.
Heads up: this year, the Clan will burn on Friday night (weather permitting).