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WATCH: Mural of water goddess at the V&A Waterfront raises awareness about ground water

Published May 6, 2022

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Cape Town - Cape Town has become home to two groundwater murals by South African artist Nadia Fisher, also known as Nardstar, and Danish artist Eske Touborg.

This Danish-South African streetart collaboration was initiated to raise awareness of the value of groundwater in the time of climate change.

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Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) freshwater programme manager Klaudia Schachtschneider said: “Following the severe drought of 2015 to 2019, Cape Town was close to becoming the world’s first major metropolitan area to run out of water.

Referred to as ‘‘Day Zero’’, Cape Town’s storage dams were at an all-time low in early 2018. This resulted in an increase in the drilling of boreholes to access the reserves of natural groundwater.”

Schachtschneider said drought events were predicted to occur more frequently due to climate change, and water would become an even scarcer resource that would need to be managed carefully.

The theme for these murals was inspired by the UN’s World Water Day, which was observed on March 22, and focused on making the “invisible” groundwater, “visible”.

Nardstar was the artist behind numerous murals around Cape Town, which ultimately focused on celebrating women of colour, as well as local fauna and flora.

She said her mural incorporated the issue of water security into this subject matter.

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Her mural depicted a water goddess, titled Camissa – the Khoi name for Cape Town, which meant place of sweet water.

Camissa was shown to have hair made of water, which symbolised the above-ground water going into all the dams, then upside-down droplets which signified the groundwater leaving the earth.

“This artwork aims to celebrate and appreciate the water resources,” she said.

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Touborg’s mural was titled “Zipper”, and depicted a human hand gently unzipping the land in front of Table Mountain to reveal the groundwater below.

“I wanted to make a connection between nature and the human side of the world. A hand is coming from outside with a very gentle touch on the zipper, because we need to have a gentle touch in how we use the world’s resources and be gentle in the way we manage groundwater and all other natural resources,” Touborg said.

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The theme for these murals was inspired by the UN’s World Water Day, which was observed on March 22, and focused on making the “invisible” groundwater, “visible”. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency
Danish artist Eske Touborg. A Danish and South African public art collaboration was launched at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Schachtschneider said the striking murals were a testament to Denmark’s long-standing contributions and collaboration with South Africa. She said Denmark had supported the country on the sustainable use of its water resources since 1994.

Danish Development Co-operation and Nordic Co-operation Minister Flemming Mortensen said he hoped the murals would open the eyes of visitors to Cape Town and make climate change and water conservation a top priority.

V&A Waterfront chief executive officer David Green said art, culture, design and the way it spoke to people and brought across stories and messages, was critically important and that was one of the reasons he was particularly proud of the mural launch.

“It is important that we do not move on to the next crisis and that is why I am particularly pleased with the partners and artists involved in this launch for using such a powerful way to bring across this awareness message,” Green said.

David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront. A Danish and South African public art collaboration was launched at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

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Cape Argus

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