Spreading a message through paint: South African artist promotes street art in Seychelles
Street is art described as a social tool. South African Wesley Pepper promoted the art form among Seychellois artists during this year's Fet Afrik. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The walls bordering the main bus terminal in the Seychelles capital, Victoria, got a new coat of paint at the weekend – although it was not any dash of colour, but rather paintings that bring out a message.
A dozen Seychellois artists were guided by South African Wesley Pepper to express themselves through street art.
Pepper has been promoting the art form in the Indian Ocean archipelago through a series of workshops organised as part of activities to mark Fet Afrik. This is an annual weeklong event showcasing Seychelles’ African heritage.
|South African street artist Wesley Pepper. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Pepper, who has been doing street art for four years, describes it as a social tool.
“I don’t believe that art should only be used to make a place beautiful. For sure it has that element to it but it should enlighten, inspire and open up people’s consciousness,” Pepper told SNA.
The Seychellois artists who took part in the mural painting event belong to Seylar – an association bringing together artists who practice various art forms. Seylar’s chairperson, Danny Sopha, whose mural depicted the need to protect the country’s environment, welcomed the collaboration with Pepper, saying it was a chance to learn what other artists are doing in other parts of the world.
|Seylar’s chairperson, Danny Sopha, painting to depict the need to protect the Seychelles' environment. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Women’s plight, life choices, and the Seychellois culture were some of the themes the artists chose to portray.
Colbert Nourrice who collaborated with fellow Seylar member Chantale Crea to depict Seychelles’ culture through music believes street art has the potential to reach a wider audience. However, he feels that it’s not so popular in Seychelles, given that one would often need authorization to paint on a wall, which are usually private property.
“If other organisations or individuals want us to express our art on their walls, then maybe we could come to some sort of arrangement. I think it would be a great opportunity for us to showcase our art,” said Nourrice.
|Colbert Nourrice who collaborated with fellow Seylar member Chantale Crea chose to focus on the Seychelles culture through music. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Robert Alexis opted to use his abstract paintings to highlight the scourge of drug abuse and how it destroys lives.
Alexis, who specializes in sculpting and fine arts, told SNA that meeting with Pepper was a great encounter, as he has been able to get the South African artist’s opinion on his own work.
“As artists we all have our own style and during such workshops we can actually exchange ideas and share our experience,” Alexis told SNA.
Commuters passing through the bus terminal at the weekend and other onlookers were quite fascinated to unravel the messages being transmitted through the various sets of painting. Some who have artistic talents were even prompted to grab a brush themselves.
|Saturday's mural painting event caught the attention of the commuters at the bus terminal. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Although the concept of street art has also been welcomed by the local artists, Seylar member Nigel Henri feels that this should be done with certain restraint.
“Artists should be responsible and should have designated areas for street art because if it’s not done with some control people would tend to paint everywhere,” said Henri.
On the monetary side, while the artists believe there is a potential to earn some form of revenue from mural paintings, Nourrice, Alexis and Henry all felt that they painting on canvas or doing a sculpture can generate more income.
Commenting on the issue of revenue, Pepper says “artists have to be smart when marketing themselves if they want to get very good revenue out of street art.”
He explained that in South Africa, he is sponsored to do what he loves best since he has already built a name for himself in his native country and internationally. For Pepper, the greatest sense of accomplishment is to see people walk by appreciating the whole process instead of seeing the completed art work.
|Wesley Pepper has been doing street art for four years. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“My work has a really strong social, political element to it and it also brings new messages like think for yourself, make up your own mind. All these together work very well for a wall,” he added.
Pepper who said he was impressed with the unity that exists among Seychellois artists and their collective approach to art, is looking forward to collaborate with Seylar on future projects.
SNA presents a collection of photos taken at Saturday's event. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY