A little while ago I saw an interesting video clip on the web about this guy who was combining art and surfing in his work with lighties in impoverished communities, and getting the lil groms grinning from ear to ear.
Turns out that True Colours founder, Luc van der Walt, is a local surfer from Blue Water Bay – and in a weird coincidence I ended up having a surf with him at Millers the day after I saw the vid. Had no idea who he was as had never seen him out there before, but after we got chatting worked out he was the guy behind the video I’d just watched the day before.
Luc’s such an inspiring dude and is doing great stuff in the community that I wanted to catch up with him for a quick interview. Cos surfers doing good stuff is lekker.
What’s the focus of True Colours – what do you guys do?
We are an ART organisation that paints murals with disadvantaged kids in their communities. We provide them the self-esteem building opportunity to be a part of something big. The kids create a huge vibrant mural with an uplifting message for their own community.
Tell us a bit about the art project for little surfers you guys started?
There are surf outreach organisations all around the coastline of SA. They teach kids from disadvantaged backgrounds how to surf and form little families, surf tribes. The kids are encouraged to attend school and are given all kinds of other opportunities such as art workshops with us. :-)
The aim for this project is to raise awareness and funds so more kids can benefit from the sweet life of surfing. The way it works: True Colours cruises around the country doing art workshops with these little surf tribes. The art that is created is then documented and digitally lifted to be adapted for surf board graphics.
The plan is to create a beautiful catalog so anyone buying a new board can choose from a range of these unique designs created by the little artists. The catalog will also feature stories of the kids and their organisations. The proceeds are to go back to their organisations so more laaities can benefit from the sweet life of surfing.
You’ve also done some work recently with the lighties at the Aleph surf clubhouse in Jbay…
The Aleph crew, what an awesome bunch of kids. They are the third group that painted with us and represented the Eastern Cape. They painted two murals, one in their clubhouse and one in their community.
And what about the spontaneous bit of street art in the Tyhoksi community outside Jbay?
Ya, that was super fun. We drove around the neighbourhood looking for a wall that could use a bit of cheering up. We found the perfect one, a wall of a house facing an unhappy playground. The owner of the house was stoked at the idea and after telling one kid what was to go down, within 5 minutes we had 20 eager little faces gazing up at us.
It must be really rewarding to see something drab become something vibrant – are the locals stoked out on the murals?
Ya, the atmosphere was totally transformed. We were stoked, the kids were super stoked and the locals were so stoked that they asked us to come back and paint on their houses to.
Am guessing it isn’t hard to find willing artists? Must be super fun working with the groms
Kids are always stoked to paint and it’s a pleasure to work with such happy, eager and creative individuals. They are also super cute and say the most hilarious things, often myself and volunteers are crying with laughter.
How did you get involved in street art and community art?
After a degree in fine-art and a year or two in the Cape Town Art scene, I decided to travel the world. I painted murals in Backpackers and hostels to support my search for perfect waves. The murals were spotted by an organisation, apt-ART, that specialises in painting with kids affected by conflict. I hopped on board and traveled around painting murals with them for about three years before starting ‘True Colours - ART to uplift’ here in SA.
When we were chatting in the surf you’ve mentioned you’ve been involved in art projects all over
I have been to very interesting places. For example Congo. Here we partnered with the organisation War Child, painting murals with orphans in Goma and Kinshasa. We also painted with children displaced by the conflict in rebel territories. That was super rad and exciting.
Another interesting place was in the Zatary refugee camp in Jordan on the boarder of Syria. An amazing experience. I have just recently finished a project in Turkey. Working with the Karam foundation who is doing such amazing work for the refugee children living in one of the border towns.
Any interesting project’s planned for the near future?
The next phase of the surf project is to get the more eager and talented kids to work their magic directly onto the boards. The phase after that is to launch the catalog I mentioned with exhibitions showcasing the best works, stories and arty pics of the project. Planing to exhibit in Cape Town, J-Bay and Durbs.
If the project is a success we are planing to work with a lot more groups in SA and even move up into Africa, maybe even go to South America, India and Indo.
We are always doing other community projects on the side and developing new ideas. One idea is have a big group of interns come in and learn from us, then split up into teams with the aim to paint with kids in all the orphanages in SA.
If peeps are keen to get involved with your projects what can they do and how can they go about it?
Well, True Colours is brand new and is always looking to add to its team of super stoked and skilled individuals. If what we do inspires you, we'd love to have you onboard. Email me anytime. We are all volunteering our time and skills for free and sometimes out of pocket. Any financial or material donations will be ultra-appreciated. We believe that ART should be fun and free for everyone.
So if you keen to help out with your time, or are able to donate materials, please give Luc a holler on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Shot to local surfer Andre Venter from Decor Pro for already getting involved and donating paint, and to Lippie for offering free use of his Surf Centre boards when Luc wants to do some lessons with the lighties.
Images by Kayoko Shutoh & Luc van der Walt