Inspired by the continent - check out the Joy from Africa to the World display at the V&A Waterfront

The V&A is set to unveil its new festive décor titled “Between the Mountain and the Sea”. Picture: Supplied

The V&A is set to unveil its new festive décor titled “Between the Mountain and the Sea”. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 7, 2023


The festive season is upon us and with all the decorations up, we can take a break and enjoy the spirit of gift giving at the V&A Waterfront and their magical displays.

The V&A is set to unveil its new festive décor titled “Between the Mountain and the Sea”.

Picture: Supplied

“The Joy from Africa to the World festive campaign is a proof point of how the combination of innovation in African arts, crafts and design coupled with a purpose-led shared value business approach can achieve sustainable success,” the retail shopping establishment said.

The V&A said that it hoped to continue the momentum it created over “a five-year journey of collaboration and creativity”.

The shopping site said that this year would deliver a variety of large-scale, visual show pieces and installations.

“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.”

Twenty 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.

Picture: Supplied

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.

“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,” according to Tinyiko Mageza, Executive Manager: Marketing at the V&A Waterfront.

“Joy from Africa channels investment towards independent artisans, small local art, craft and design businesses and creative communities,” Mageza said.

“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.”

The V&A said they where 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.

It should be noted that displays get reused or repurposed each year and newer creations are added to the mix. In some cases, displays are recycled and reimagined to create entirely new creations so nothing is ever wasted.

Platform Creative is the agency that curates the installations at the V&A.

Their mission is to mentor and support local creative industries while championing sustainability and maintaining a socially motivated drive to build circular economies.

Cathy O’Clery, the company’s Creative Director said: “There’s an extra level of ingenuity and fresh talent from young designers that has come through this year.

According to the V&A, visitors return every year 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.


Regine le Roux is from Re.Bag.Re.Use, an organisation where 15 ladies have been commissioned to work on Joy from Africa to the World.

The initiative supports the community and also keeps the environment clean.

According to the company, 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.

Naledi Modupi an illustrator from Mo Art Studio, has been tasked with creating an illustration featuring dancers that highlights the performers of Cape Town. The illustration commissioned will be displayed for the Fashion Link installation.

“These dancers exude a sense of diversity, fashion-forwardness, and style. Aiming to capture the vibrancy and colourfulness of Cape Town through my unique artistic style. The objects were creatively inspired by the vibrant culture of the people of South Africa, particularly Cape Town. I aimed to stay true to my artistic purpose, which is to highlight and celebrate the beauty and confidence of women,” Mageza said.

“Since its inception, the award-winning Joy from Africa to the World collaboration has been intentional about ensuring that every partner and individual on the project is credited and invited to see their work showcased at the V&A,” Mageza concluded.