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PHOTOS BY NICK MUZIK

Inspired by a vision to showcase a more authentic local holiday season, the V&A Waterfront has reimagined the festive season this year. The decorative installations are used as a platform to celebrate local artists and crafters – and do so sustainably and responsibly.

The goal is to showcase how beautiful African creativity is; to tell a positive, authentic narrative about the continent; and to demonstrate the amazing things you can do with waste.

Look out for

The Summer Palace, where little ones can meet Mother Earth and The Guardian of Joy (until 24 December); the Joy Market, which features a selection of locally made decorations for sale (until 24 December); and the Baobab of Wishes. You can tie your message of joy to the tree.

“The Waterfront is an anchor place in this city. I have memories of going there with my parents. It’s part of my history.” – Sindiso Khumalo, project designer

Local lass

Leading South African sustainable textile and fashion designer and multi-award-winning, Milan Fashion-Week darling Sindiso Khumalo is the designer of the Summer Palace (Ibhotwe Lasehlotyeni). This year, she’s briefly departed from fashion to delight V&A visitors and help bring joy from Africa to the world.

“Christmas is celebrated globally and is all about the coming together of communities. I wanted to reflect this in the work,” explains Sindiso.

The display is watched over by a wall of characters Khumalo sketched from around the city, so that all Capetonian children can see themselves in the childlike graphics and feel like the narrative belongs to them. “The main thing is I hope the kids have the best fun in it. It’s really just for them. I felt like a bit of a kid myself making it. Fundamentally, it’s about having the magic of Christmas in an African way. I think that’s just a cool idea.”

Whether you come from Germany or Germiston, we hope you see these installations and feel a sense of awe and joy. – Tinyiko Mageza, executive manager of marketing, V&A Waterfront

The most important asset

Almost 200 individuals were involved in the project with approximately 130 makers representing South Africa cities like KwaZulu Natal, Upington, Langa, Khayelitsha, Johannesburg and African countries like Zimbabwe, Southern Zambia, and Senegal.

Proof points

The 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – principles are embedded in all the decorative installations throughout the precinct:

  • 2800 found bottles were upcycled for the Colour Extravaganza Upcycled Plastic Chandeliers in the Watershed
  • The flying birds are made from recycled metal. The standing birds are created from recycled paper, wood and Kalahari sand.
  • Metal frames from previous years’ Christmas trees have been reskinned with recycled paper and felt materials
  • The Alpha Beads baskets use llala palm
  • The Dunoon Cascades baskets are made from imisi reeds from a conservation corridor in Table Bay Nature Reserve

“We are building an inclusive neighbourhood in the city of Cape Town. As neighbourhood custodians, we need to create and curate a space that looks after the interests of the people who come here and the environment we’re in.” – Tinyiko Mageza, executive manager of marketing, V&A Waterfront