GrowBox Art Project: named after a community project started by Renshia Manuel in Hanover Park in which underserved communities are able to grow vegetables in spite of limited spaces!
Cape Town, South Africa – This past weekend, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), in partnership with the NGO African Artists for Development (AAD-Fund), opened an engaging new group exhibition titled GrowBox Art Project.
The exhibition is named after a community project which provides portable boxes that enable underserved communities from around the Cape to grow vegetables in spite of limited spaces. It will see ten well-known artists from various African countries – including South Africa – being challenged to convert wooden planters into artworks.
The GrowBox Art Project took root when AAD-Fund – an NGO member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) committed to development in African communities – was struck by the innovative concept of this community project. The initiative was started by Renshia Manuel in 2015 when she was unemployed and needed to feed her four children. She transformed part of her garden into a vegetable patch. From there, it flourished.
Speaking of Manuel’s innovative project, AAD co-founder Matthias Leridon says: “She solved these problems out of necessity, but given her circumstances, she might not have the capacity to realise her world-changing potential. That’s where AAD and its incubator come in. Ideas like Renshia’s, with some help, can change the world.”
AAD co-founder Gervanne Leridon explains the artists’ commitment to the GrowBox Art Project: “The artists bring soul to the project, and an absolutely phenomenal lever for growth, that a development project alone cannot provide.”
Using the museum as a platform to encourage dialogue around sustainable practices, GrowBox exemplifies collective achievement, problem-solving and resourcefulness in the face of adversity.
Co-curator Julia Kabat says the exhibition evokes important debate about the history of agriculture in Africa, particularly about how multicultural cultivation can prevent the issue of monoculture.
Sakhisizwe Gcina, the exhibition’s other co-curator further states: “The GrowBox Art Project addresses crucial environmental issues related to urban farming, planning and development in a meaningful and thought-provoking installation.”
For some of the artists involved, GrowBox is personal.
“I decided to use a little piece of the GrowBox and use more metal, which I’m used to, and then I connected the piece to the more historical background of suffering under colonialism and apartheid. So I tried to combine the GrowBox story with a deeper root of the problem of poverty and where it comes from and how it sustains itself,” says Willie Bester, a Western Cape-born artist.
For more on the GrowBox NPO, visit growbox.strikingly.com