Did you know?
Hamburg was named by German settlers who came to South Africa in 1856.
The quiet coastal village of Hamburg, hardly an hour south of East London, is the home of a remarkable venture - the Keiskamma Trust's Art Project.
You’ll find its shop along the main road. Inside, you will meet the cheerful Nzali Makubalo, who presides over a delightful range of hand-embroidered and felt goods. Each cushion cover is a tiny pastiche, an insight into Xhosa life (not least their love for cattle). Every wall-hanging tells a story of life in this small town.
Their beauty may distract you from the fact that this is part of a powerful social upliftment project.
It was started in 2000 by Dr Carol Hofmeyr, who came to this quiet town with her husband to retire and create art. But she could not enjoy the peace of the place with such obvious poverty around her.
She started a plastic bag-crocheting project, then an embroidery project with a handful of unemployed women. They called it the Keiskamma Art Project after the river that winds through this tiny village to the sea.
Now more than 100 local people are involved with the project, and they have produced work on such an epic, history-telling scale that their ‘tapestries’ can be found on permanent display in museums, art galleries and even in the South African Parliament.
The art project has expanded to include ceramics, felt, beading and print-making.
It is the flagship of the Keiskamma Trust, which takes a holistic approach to uplifting the community. The trust is an umbrella body for dozens of inspiring initiatives, covering education, health, nutrition and life skills.
Volunteers coming to stay in the village have added immeasurably to the project. One person helped set up a music academy among the children; another an organic vegetable garden, yet another taught the children Capoeira – Brazilian martial arts combined with music.
And it all started with compassion, needle and thread.
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Tel: +27 (0) 40 678 1177