Toddler Mural Has Dig at West Coast Mining.

Words by Steve Pike.

A work in progress. Image by Steve Pike.

A surfer and artist passionate about protecting the Cape West Coast from illegal & destructive mining will paint a large mural in Cape Town of a toddler digging up the beach with a toy truck and digger as part of the global Sea Walls mural project.

Marti Lund, known for his portraiture and mural work, began painting a 10 metre wall on Wednesday 11 October at Gardens Commercial High School standing on a hydraulic cherry picker crane, armed with brushes and paints.

In the foreground of his painting, Lund will include a “No Access, Mining in Progress” sign, which references the signs used on West Coast mining sites to restrict access to the beach.

The work is a nod to the signs used in a Protect the West Coast (PTWC) campaign that saw activists plant the no access signs on busy Cape Town beaches and pretended to prevent beachgoers from accessing the beach.

The mural is part of the Pangeaseed Foundation’s mural art project Sea Walls: South Africa, which invites artists to create large-scale murals around the world with an ocean conservation message and call to action.

Presented by the Save Our Seas Foundation to celebrate its 20th anniversary, this is the first large-scale Pangeaseed project on the African continent. The African iteration will produce a new series of ocean advocacy murals, and host public events to increase interest and engagement around marine stewardship and action within the coastal community.

The artwork – the first of 13 murals to be painted in Cape Town over the next month – is a mark of solidarity for efforts to prevent unregulated mining up the Cape West Coast, where hundreds of kilometres of pristine coastline are being mined for diamonds and heavy minerals, with many more under threat.

Lund’s connection to the cause of PTWC comes out of his own emotional bond to the pristine natural beauty and biodiverse ecosystems of the West Coast after years of travelling up the coast to camp, surf and paint murals in the abandoned buildings in the area, then spending Covid lockdown in the Elands Bay to Lamberts Bay area: “my love for the West Coast has been a long-term affair; it’s where I go to simplify and come back to myself and nature.”

However, diamond and other forms of heavy mineral mining imperil the region’s untouched wildernesses, as well as the well-being and long-term prospects of local communities.

The project, which officially begins in Cape Town on November 3, will feature week-long, free-to-the-public programming, youth outreach at local schools, a coastal clean-up, and mural walking tours to ignite discourse on the different topics expressed in the artwork on buildings all around Cape.

His Sea Walls mural replicates Lund’s process, layering and colour approach of his oil paintings in his studio. These techniques are translated into a large-scale artwork using acrylic paints; a particularly classical approach to mural painting.

The use of a young boy playing on the beach was inspired by Lund’s nephews, who “love playing with toy trucks and building sand castles “. The idea was to create a metaphor for the mining process, the lack of consideration it has for the coast and the way it denies people access to the beach, besides the environmental degradation.

“The work acts as a conversation about the way some mining is carried out, almost like a toddler who is just going for it without following the rules, with no formative opinion or science as to how bad it is for the environment,” he said.

“The boy represents, in intention, the mining powers that be: childish acts blissfully unaware of the enormity of what they are doing. He is a metaphoric puppeteer with a naive ignorance of the damage he is causing. It speaks of foreign mining companies acting like children, armed with dangerous toys that can cause large-scale destruction, all in the name of profit at the cost of an eco-system that is not their own’ he said.

Lund said the collaboration with PTWC was about aligning a deep ethos around caring for our West Coast and its communities, and could extend to another sister mural painted in a town up the West Coast.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out when in the Gardens area of Cape Town!

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