Street Art in a Free State Township

I recently spent two days in Clarens — a quaint resort town in the mountains of the eastern Free State — as part of the MeetSouthAfrica local blogger trip. I’ve been to Clarens three or four times but never devoted an entire blog post to it, even though I think it’s one of the loveliest towns in South Africa (albeit a bit touristy). You can find reference to Clarens in several of my posts though: see here and here and here and here.

This post isn’t about Clarens either. (Sorry, Clarens fans.) It’s about Kgubetswana, the township right next to Clarens, where I saw some really cool graffiti.

Clarens wall

Graffiti with a backdrop of emerald-green Free State mountains.

We discovered this graffiti through a quirky art gallery in downtown Clarens called Ism Skism. Some of the other MeetSouthAfrica bloggers wandered into Ism Skism and started chatting to the owner, Sven Christian, about what he was up to.

Ism skism

Inside Ism Skism.

Sven offered to take us to Kgubetswana, which is a five-minute walk from Clarens, to show us some street art he curated as part of a project called the Flatlands Tour. You can read a nice description of the Flatlands Tour on the Graffiti South Africa website.

I have a special interest in graffiti, as most of you know, and a special interest in finding beautiful things in unexpected places. So this impromptu tour was exciting for me. I took dozens of photos but here are a few of my favorites.

Kgubetswana water tank

A water tank at a community center in Kgubetswana, painted by Cape Town artist Skubalisto. 

Kgubetswana girl

A wall at the same community center, also by Skubalisto.

Kgubetswana tuck shop

Painting on the wall of a Kgubetswana tuck shop, by Skubalisto and Mr. Migo (also an artist from Cape Town). I love this.

Felicia

The gorgeous Felicia, who happened to walk out of the tuck shop dressed to the nines in traditional garb and agreed to pose for a portrait. What luck. 

Jazzland

The Jazzland Bar in Kgubetswana. I think Sven might have painted this but I’m not sure.

The next time you’re in Clarens, pay a visit to Sven at Ism Skism. Clarens has tons of great art galleries but this one is really something different. If you ask nicely, Sven might even take you on a street art tour — a refreshing change from the conventional Clarens pastimes of hiking, shopping, and eating.

By the way, my conventional Clarens post is still coming. Some day.

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1 Comment

  • Reply UnderAnAfricanSun May 7, 2015 at 6:50 am

    Very cool tour and street art. We were just in Clarens on Sunday for the first time but did not see the gallery. Will check it out next time, thanks !

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