Journeying In

02. November 2016

By Vanessa Meintjes
Photo credits to Thomas Wright

Informal sector

Who’s the prisoner?

This week our team's cinematographer, Thomas Wright and I invite you to join us on a journey. The location is Umbilo Road, situated in downtown Durban, a border of tar between the leafy residential suburb of Glenwood and the belching cogs of industry that make the horizon invisible for many days of the year.

Street // No windows left to break

No windows left to break

As we enter we have to assume a humble posture, head bowed to fit through the metal door frame. We raise our heads again to observe a flood of colours and textures, the juxtaposition of organic and industrial mingle together in an orchestrated chaos, ‘found objects’ repurposed, reframed, transformed and valued again.


Trash to treasure

Weaving our way through the art installations and murals, we meet with the founder, Xolani Hlongwa and his partner Åsa Nilsson in the second-hand clothes store 'Bonnie & Clyde' housed within Green Camp. Xolani talks to us about how recycling, rehabilitation and stimulation are the main phases of building the Green Camp Gallery Project. This is also mirrored on an internal, personal level too where introspection is the name of the game.

Åsa explains how she came to South Africa on an internship to have a break from a structured life of office meetings day after day. When she met Xolani, she returned to Europe only to pack her bags, turning her back on the ‘safe and civilized’ northern hemisphere, not knowing the deep personal journey that adapting to her new life would take her on.

Xolani and Åsa - collaboration and love between different worlds

Xolani himself spent many years living and working in arts and culture in Sweden. He became disillusioned as his ideas could not reach fruition due to too much red-tape and the fact that his ‘target audience’ was not to be found in Europe but back home in SA.

Biko with guava tree

Green fingers on the pulse

Both speak of the need to deprogram and disconnect from the construct of time. In the western cultural paradigm, we say 'Time is money' and consider time and money to be a limited resource. This sense of scarcity pervades our every thought. Another western construct is that money makes the world go round. Consumerism for consumerism's sake, ironically, is totally unsustainable. This has led us to disrupt most of the natural world, with giant oceanic gyres of plastic visible from space and chemical pollution in our air and water.

Shrine to love

It is in this context that alternative modes of living and rethinking ‘success’ is what humanity desperately needs. The Green Camp Gallery Project brings this into the spotlight through their deeds and not just their words.

Local Food Programme, not World Food Programme