DISCOVER VRYGROND, MASIPHUMELELE AND IMIZAMO YETHU
The women who created this totem live in three of Cape Town’s settlements. Those who work at Ronel Jordaan’s Capricorn Park studio hail from Vrygrond and Masiphumelele, while most of the crochet artists at Projekt live in Imizamo Yethu, having moved to Cape Town from Zimbabwe and Malawi. Although these three areas are around the corner from many of the Mother City’s most popular destinations, such as Muizenberg’s surfing beach, Silvermine Nature Reserve and the winding road of Chapman’s Peak Drive, they house some of the city’s most impoverished communities.
“Imizamo Yethu is not a very big population,” says Projekt member Monica Madimutsa. “It’s a quiet area with a nice view from the hill,” she says, referring to the outlook over Hout Bay.
Of Vrygrond, Cecelia Nyoka, Floor Manager at Ronel Jordaan, says, “Although it is risky to walk in the streets alone at night, on my side it is okay, and overall it is a nice place if you stay indoors.” She tells of community initiatives that help children stay off the streets during the day. “At Vrygrond Primary you see kids playing soccer in the afternoon, and there is a library for them to study. Other places have dancing and singing competitions during the holidays, and I’ve also seen three or four soup kitchens open to everyone who lacks food.”
From Cape Town’s city centre, the M3 is the scenic alternative to the M5 to get to Vrygrond, and takes you through the leafy Newlands route.
Masiphumelele can also be reached via the M3 and Ou Kaapse Weg. Street-side hawkers will be your cue that you’re in the right place, before reaching Kommetjie. The alternate route via Chapman’s Peak Drive costs R54 to access but is worth the fare. Stop to take a selfie with Hout Bay’s Sentinel as a backdrop.
To visit Imizamo Yethu, drive over Kloof Nek Road, between Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, and onto the coastal Victoria Road, passing Llandudno and entering Hout Bay. Imizamo Yethu lies on the hillside adjacent to the main traffic circle and Hout Bay Police Station.
WHEN TO VISIT
Cape Town reveals its best side when the sun is shining. The city’s winters are wet, so people tend to stay indoors a lot during this time. Vrygrond, Masiphumelele and Imizamo Yethu are much more lively when grounds are dry and people spend time in front of their homes, with kids playing together in their communities.
There are various social upliftment projects happening in these areas, and they welcome volunteers throughout the year. Visitors can look into Amava Oluntu (amava.org), Masicorp (www.masicorp.org) and Love in a Bowl (loveinabowl.co.za), amongst many other initiatives.
A MASTERY OF MATERIALS
Ronel Jordaan works with 100% South African Merino wool, producing organic felt that avoids the process of chemical carbonisation to clean the wool and only makes use of bio-degradable soap in its production process. The dyes used are imported from Germany because they are lead-free and eco-compliant. Silk and cotton has also been used on this totem.
The Projekt team places a strong emphasis on its use of colour and interesting crochet patterns. The women use pure cotton and linen, specialising in extremely fine work, using the smallest hook to crochet. They are equally adept at creating large sculptural pieces. “Projekt is structured so that new artisans can begin earning from day one, making the most basic components,” says Peta.
THE STORY OF TWO BAYS
The two teams named their totem Two Bays, after the two ocean bays where they live and work: False Bay and Hout Bay.
“This totem is inspired by our oceans, which we know so little about, yet they make up 70 percent of the earth’s surface,” says Ronel. “The ocean holds life forms of such beauty and inspiration.”
“It symbolises the resurgence of the ocean,” adds Peta, “and is a metaphor for the changes our projects have experienced since lockdown in March 2020.”
Coral, seaweed and jellyfish have been interpreted in felt and crochet forms that fill this totem with the notion that one should always look beyond the surface to find hope and positive reasons to embrace change.