| PORT ELIZABETH

Motherwell brothers use art to stop illegal dump site

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Rubbish dump paintings lead to fame for Port Elizabeth pair

Photo of man painting concrete pillar
Sakhumzi Nyendwana paints a disused concrete pillar. Photo: Joseph Chirume
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What started as a simple project two years ago to replace an illegal dump site outside an Eastern Cape home with attractive eye-catching murals has opened the doors of success for two Port Elizabeth based brothers.

The brothers, Sakhumzi Nyendwana, 30, and Msindisi, 25, were frustrated by people who dumped rubbish outside their house in Motherwell.

The brothers, who live with their mother, feared she could fall sick as a result of the stinking dump site. Attempts to stop residents dumping their rubbish next to the Nyendwana house had failed, and the site had grown into an eyesore where rats and other pests were roaming freely.

“The place was smelling unbearably. It attracted large flies, mosquitoes and rats. Some residents were even dumping dead dogs and cats on the site,” said Sakhumzi Nyendwana. “There are many young children around our house who were vulnerable and could have fallen sick. Our mother’s failing health was another contributing factor. I decided to build a mural that would discourage residents from throwing their garbage outside our home.”

Armed with a passion for art but no formal training, Sakhumzi Nyendwana said he convinced his younger brother to help him build a barrier in the form of murals.

“We virtually had nothing to kickstart our project. We collected concrete slates from various construction sites around Motherwell. We approached our local municipality for help.They gave us huge disused concrete pillars. We bought paint and brushes with the help of our mother’s old age grant.”

The murals were a great success. Some residents took time to pose for photos and selfies in front of the murals. Others hired the brothers for a small fee to beautify their brick walls. Orders started coming in from local schools and creches.

“Orders began to flock from curious home owners and creches who wanted us to paint and write messages on their brick walls. We charge a small fee to cover the cost of paint and transport.”

Now the brothers plan to transform five other illegal dumps in their area.

“We have identified two public sites and three children’s playgrounds where we hope to build murals and discourage residents from throwing their garbage.We hope to start soon if we get the necessary finance to buy the concrete pipes.”

Msindisi Nyendwana said the paintings carried contemporary messages, warning against issues such as crime, xenophobia and corruption.

Motherwell is known for its violent crimes, high unemployment rate,and alcohol abuse, mostly among the youth.

“We aim to play our part by discouraging youngsters from taking drugs and committing crime. We aim to encourage them to learn how to draw. We are also hoping to build an art studio or gallery at our house.We however don’t have enough money to do so.The gallery will act as a meeting centre where interested youths are taught the skills of drawing.The youngsters could also use the centre to share their skills with each other and get to mingle with visiting tourists.”

Msindisi Nyendwana said the paintings had been exhibited in galleries such as Gallery Noko,the Port Elizabeth Atheneum, the Albany Museum in Grahamstown and the Port Elizabeth museum. The brothers use oil paint on canvass  and also experiment with scrap metal and cardboard.

They were recently invited to be resident artists at Port Elizabeth Atheneum for the next two months.

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TOPICS:  Arts and culture

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