Faith47: Tones of Chiaroscuro

The title of Cape Town artist Faith47‘s latest work – The Harvest – speaks about: ‘Abundance; Richness; and Fruitfulness… The reward after months of hard labour.’ Her murals are a positive fixture in the ever-changing South African aesthetic; an open dialogue that speaks out to all that wish to engage with it. Humbled by being hands-on, Faith has come to feel that ‘we often speak so much of the lack of abundance, of neglect and depravity… And a serious shortfall of sustenance and substance of understanding in South Africa. Through The Harvest, Faith47 wanted to invert this.

Below we discover more about Faith and The Harvest:

I still weave dreams, finding inspiration wherever I can and looking for romance in the real, not the digital, world. (
Grace Coddington)


What have you been daydreaming about recently?

I’ve been wondering about Chaos. Fragility. Uncertainty. These things we shy away from, but inevitably they are visitors and we should treat them with respect. I’ve been opening the door for them, offering them tea, and we’ve been having long comforting conversations into the night.

What was going through your mind during the time of painting The Harvest, and if you could turn it into a question/challenge for all of us living in South Africa (and beyond), what would that be?

Similar to John Lennon’s ‘War is Over‘ campaign [The Harvest] is about manifesting reality. To give, work, and reap for all. To gather, acquire and mature – not to say these things will actually happen. But to imagine it brings it within our realm of possibilities.infinitud_del_universo_malaga_spain_picture_courtesy_of_fer_frances_beautifulbizarre

‘Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects. The object is nothing, light is everything.’ (Leonard Missone).  Any thoughts on Missone’s quote?

Can I contradict this quote? There is something overwhelmingly beautiful about the sea at night; the lack of light, the immense denseness of the dark, deep ocean. Night allows the sea to be itself – majestic in her mystery and unhindered by our perceptions of it.The object is in itself profound, commonplace and ordinary subjects are more complex then they seem.

Light, although celebrated, creates shadow. We need to glorify and embrace both the light and the shadow. These tones of chiaroscuro cannot exist without polarities. Where is your place of light… your sanctuary?

I am still looking for that. Perhaps I find glimmers of it when a take a deep inhale, and then before I exhale there is a very sacred moment, a sensation of stillness and peace.


Create a sentence/s from this:’#ANOTHERLIGHTUP…’


Is an experiment.
Is a collaboration.
Is brave, and overly ambitious.
Is a result of feeling too much pain about people’s living conditions.
Is an attempt to transform something one-dimensional into something multi-dimensional.
Is looking at ways of connecting people and places that are otherwise very disconnected.
Is an attempt to stop complaining, and rather to use one’s energy in a constructive manner.
Is rooted in a personal desire to have an actual impact in a physical reality as opposed to my tendency of being self-involved and introspective.

Is a shot in the dark.
What spaces speak to you the most?

Spaces that have been really lived in. Walls that have seen things. Textures that tell stories. Paint that aches. Floorboards that creak. Plants that have grown through the cracks. Things like that.


When looking back at some of places you’ve travelled to… Can you give me the first thing that comes to mind for the following locations:


Heavy luggage and lots of stairs.
Damp apartments and ancient graveyards.
Having no where to sleep on a very long and cold night, drinking coffee in a diner till the sun comes up.


Losing our keys to the place we were staying and searching all night in the cold for a place to stay, finally finding a crummy little room in the Red Light district.
Getting lost.
Painting in an old abandoned factory with Tika.
Discovering Magnet Club
Lying in the parks in summer, watching the clouds move by.
Finding the most profound ancient treasures in the Egyptian Museum.


Driving on the highway during a massive electric thunderstorm, feeling very… alive.
The combination of the hard city and the immensely powerful sky cracking the air right down to the ground, sending shivers to my spine.
Exploring empty high-rise buildings, reading messages left on walls by former squatters, long since removed… feeling their memories in the air.

New York

Subway adventures, carrying lots of paint.
Finding random hidden-away dinners with the most beautiful obscure music at 4am.
A certain feeling of being the centre of gravity and the world spinning around you. [why is that?]

faith47_the_immense_gap_between_past_and_future_ vienna_beautifulbizarre

Meeting people, learning from other cultures, seeing ‘with new eyes’… Is there somebody you might have met that you will never forget? From a bus driver who was rapping Digable Planets to an artist sharing inspiration… A story that maybe you come back to when life throws those curve balls.

Hmmm… there are so many encounters that have anchored me. I’ll recall one of them.

Last year (2013) in Durban I was taking photos of stowaway graffiti, near the taxi rank next to some men who were resorting old eggs on the pavement for resale. A young man from Tanzania came to talk to me. He was telling me about the life of the stowaways: how they survive the long journeys on the ships; who they pay off; and which boats they get thrown off when discovered. He’d been in Durban for four years and like all the others, was waiting for his ‘chance’ to get on a boat to Europe.

I asked if he could take me to the bridge under the train line where a lot of them sleep. But first we had to help him take his collected cardboard boxes to the recycling depot so that he could make his daily living: a far walk, with a very heavy load in order to get R10 [$1]. Going past the Durban harbour I notice his eyes lit up when he saw the container ships. He tells me how they come and watch the ships in the harbour for hours on end. Like glistening dreams of hope. The stowaways have an almost religious reverence for the ships, painting them under bridges, and writing poems about their dreams and fears of being a Seaman.

We were heading for the railway line. Under the bridge there is an area covered in their paintings, of which I have a habit of documenting. But on arriving there, we could not go in – it was too dangerous, there too many people. They sell ‘wanga’ there – a mixture of ARV’s, heroine and rat poison. A street drug that eats your soul and weakens your blood.

He phones home sometimes to his family. He cannot tell them how he is living, sleeping on the streets with no food. They think he has a happy life but it is really the toughest life you can imagine. Despite this, there is something about his face, his smile – it’s so open and honest and hopeful.

He said to me, ‘You’re lucky, if you want to go somewhere, you can go there, and if you want to come back, you can come back. I spend my whole life dreaming about getting away. Of going to Europe, working hard and sending money to my family. We [the Seamen] suffer for this, die for this.’

Although I already know this, the reality of his words hit me hard. They sit with me and rest their heavy wings in my heart. For days after our encounter I feel the deep ache of the world and its undercurrents.

We are so oblivious of how we effect each other, how we are all so intricately and delicately wrapped up in each others fates. I carry this story, and others like this, wrapped in delicate fabric on the altar of my heart. To forget this, would mean certain death to my soul.


Harvest_cape_town_pic_by_rowan_ pybus_beatifulbizarre


Follow Faith47:


All artwork by Faith47

Image credits:

Image 1: ‘Infinitud del Universo’; Malaga, Spain; Mural by Faith47; Picture courtesy of Fer Frances
Image 2: ‘The Immense Gap Between Past and Future’; ink, acrylic, oil and spraypaint on Belgian linen; 1m x 1m
Image 3: Multum in Parvo, Miami; Faith47
Image 4: ‘The Immense Gap Between Past and Future’; Vienna; Faith47
Image 5: ‘The Reflection of the Sun’; ink, acrylic, oil and spraypaint on Belgian linen; 80x90cm
Image 6 (and Featured Image): ‘The Harvest’; Cape Town; Photo by Rowan Pybus


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