When I visited this project in 2009, I was honored to meet Dr. Carol Hofmeyr who built an AIDS clinic with hospice, developed veggie gardens and also brought art and music to this small hamlet on the Wild Coast. Carol said that as an artist herself, she knew that to heal a community one needs to provide medical care and also care of the creative spirit.
The Keiskamma Art Project was created in 2000. Carol began teaching arts and crafts to a handful of women who began by collecting the plastic bags that littered the village. They crocheted them into hats and bags. From those humble beginnings the Art Project has grown to become the place where art and health intersect to create meaning and hope to a population struggling from decades of abuse and poverty. 130 artists and crafters create quality works, generating much-needed income to improve the quality of life in Hamburg and surroundings.
The community art project takes on monumental art installations. I saw their amazing 30-foot wide altarpiece in Durban. I filmed the altarpiece being opened at the Durban Art Gallery and it gives an idea of its massive scale. Watch the beautiful video below to see this remarkable altarpiece.The Altarpiece started its North American Tour installed at St. James Cathedral in Toronto, Canada for the 2006 for International AIDS Conference. It went on to UCLA to the Fowler Museum of Art in Los Angeles to mark World AIDS day, 1 December 2006.
Keiskamma also stitched an extraordinary 120-yard Bayeux-like Tapestry history of their nation. It’s now housed in the Parliament buildings in Cape Town.