Photo Credit: V&A Waterfront

Every year, the V&A Waterfront puts on a Christmas display that wows shoppers from around the world; they collaborate with local designers and artisans to give Christmas a proudly South African twist.


Cape Town, South Africa (30 November 2023) – Each year, the V&A Waterfront teams up with local designers, creators, artisans and more to put on a festive Christmas display that showcases the beauty of Africa. They call it ‘Joy from Africa to the World’. Traditionally, the festive season makes use of fake snow and all things winter but South Africa is blessed with incredible weather so why not have that be the highlight while embracing local art and culture too?

Continuing the momentum created over a five-year journey of collaboration and creativity, this year promised to deliver a variety of large-scale, visual show pieces and installations. And boy did it!

Each of these installations has been conceptualised to shine a spotlight on the importance of preserving traditional handcraft and merging it with circularity and contemporary design. Featuring bursts of colour and intricate detail, every part of this project is firmly rooted in sustainability – a core value of the V&A Waterfront’s way of doing business.

This year over 20 teams of local crafters, designers and artists have been at work to step up the creative ante on previous years, bringing to life this year’s theme: Between the Mountain and the Sea, which pays homage to the Mother City and its beautiful landscapes, iconic landmarks and the unique culture that make it the world-renowned destination that it is.

Artisans included graphic designer Dixieland, illustrators Joh Del, Studio 99Perspective and Mo Art Studio, and a list of talented makers which you can see below:

  • Ashanti
  • Master Wire and Bead Craft
  • Kieskamma
  • Monkeybiz
  • Makombe Arts
  • Bongolomba Carvings
  • Africa Art
  • Embrace Collective
  • Jacques Potgieter
  • Ronel Jordaan
  • Boabab
  • Imaterial
  • Modern Gesture
  • Re.Bag.Re.Use
  • Art Club and Friends
  • Good Good Good

Every year many visitors return to see old favourites such as the giant Christmas tree, the Hot Air Balloon, the giant books which this year will be hosted by Book Dash, and some exciting newer works on display such as the Cape Wheel and Cable Car collaboration with local designers, Ashanti Design and Monkeybiz.

Since the start of the initiative in 2019, the V&A has been able to invest in craft and product development from more than 70 businesses, some of them tenants and therefore part of the Waterfront neighbourhood, but also from communities in Cape Town, the rest of the country as well as the continent. Displays get reused or repurposed each year and newer creations are added to the mix – in the spirit of making the circle bigger. In some cases, displays are recycled and reimagined to create entirely new creations so nothing is ever wasted.

Artists, illustrators and crafters from Langa, Imizamo Yethu, Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Philippi, and from as far afield as the Karoo, the Eastern Cape, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Senegal have over the years been commissioned to work with local, sustainable materials to create art installations that get exhibited across the V&A Waterfront precinct – from the mall, to markets and the exterior spaces between the buildings.

“Our sustainability journey began at the end of 2017 with our public announcement that the Waterfront would do all it could to eliminate plastic waste from our property.”

“Using that environmentally sustainable microscope we questioned the need for mass-produced festive decorations that all look the same, imported, and end up as waste in landfill sites. This was unconscionable especially as we have such rich creative talent to draw from right on our shores. Now Joy from Africa channels investment towards independent artisans, small local art, craft and design businesses and creative communities. This collective of partners in turn help us create far more sustainable, unique and compelling festive displays that reflect our heritage and support the mission to restore the relevance of African craft; often passed down through the generations.” – Tinyiko Mageza, Executive Manager: Marketing at the V&A Waterfront

This year, Audrey Abraham, working with Embrace Collective as well as from Wola Nani, made 30 new baubles by recycling 210 baubles used in previous years.

Not only was there a sustainable element, but also a philanthropic one, where teams that aim to give back, joined forces. Regine le Roux, from Re.Bag.Re.Use, shared that they were able to bring on their 15 employed ladies for this project to work on a commissioned piece.

“Re.Bag.Re.Use started off as a hobby that has snowballed into this incredible initiative. The initiative supports the community and also keeps the environment clean. When a Re.Bag.Re.Use product is sold, not only does it pay a lady that cuts or crochets the products, but a percentage is also donated to the Neighbourhood Old Age Home (NOAH) and the SPCA. We are incredibly grateful to be part of this amazing initiative, it means a lot that the ladies’ talent will be shared with all the visitors at the Waterfront,” said Le Roux.

Already the Christmas display is bringing joy to thousands of shoppers every day, so be sure to go take a look. Not able to see the proudly South African festive display in person? Check out the images below:

Sources: Joy from Africa to the World
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Christmas and Christmas.

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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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