Toddler Mural Has Dig at Mining

Written by
October 19, 2023
DON'T DIG THAT: Marti Lund's mural of a toddler digging in the sand as a metaphor for unregulated mining. Image Benjamin Malherbe
A surfer artist passionate about protecting the West Coast of South Africa from illegal mining has painted the first mural of the Sea Walls mural project in Cape Town, writes Spike.

Marti Lund, known for his portraiture and mural work, has just completed a 10 metre wall at Gardens Commercial High School standing on a hydraulic cherry picker crane, armed with brushes and paints. The mural, which depicts a toddler digging up the beach with a toy truck and digger - is part of the Pangeaseed Foundation's mural art project Sea Walls, which invites artists to create large-scale murals around the world with an ocean conservation message and call to action.

The artwork - the first of 13 murals planned for Cape Town in the next month - is a mark of solidarity for efforts to prevent unregulated mining up the West Coast, where 100s of kilometres of pristine coastline are mined for diamonds and heavy minerals, with many more under threat.  

Sea Walls: South Africa - presented by the Save Our Seas Foundation to celebrate its 20th anniversary - is the first large-scale Pangeaseed project on the African continent. The African iteration in Cape Town 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 project, which officially begins in Cape Town on November 3, will feature week-long, free-to-the-public programming, youth outreach at a local school, a coastal clean-up, and self guided mural tours to ignite discourse on the topics depicted on buildings all around the city.

In the foreground of his painting, Lund has included 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 same signs in a campaign by local non-profit Protect the West Coast (PTWC) that saw activists plant them on busy Cape Town beaches and pretend to prevent beachgoers from accessing the beach.

Apart from media awareness campaigns, PTWC works to stop mining using legal means. PTWC recently secured an out-of-court settlement against mining company Nekwana Trading, which prevents it from mining around the sensitive Olifants River Estuary - a powerful step in ensuring official protection status for this vulnerable biodiversity hotspot.

Lund's emotional bond to the natural beauty and biodiverse ecosystems of the West Coast comes from years of travelling there to camp, surf and paint murals in abandoned buildings.

LARGE SCALE: Marti uses a range of bigger brushes, a cherry picker crane and acrylic paint for his mural. Image Benjamin Malherbe

He also spent Covid lockdown in Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay: "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 Sea Walls mural replicates Lund's artistic process, layering and colour approach of 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 is intended to represent 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 ecosystem that is not their own,” he said.

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

Childish acts blissfully unaware of the enormity of what they are doing
About Sea Walls: South Africa

Sea Walls is hosted by PangeaSeed Foundation and presented by Save Our Seas Foundation, in partnership with SJ Artists and Wavescape.

Thanks for support from the Spanish Consulate, Whiteheads Paint Contractors, Plascon Paints, Jack Hammers, Montana Cans, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany Cape Town, Volcom, Jack Black’s Beer, Eazi Access and Neighbourgood.

@pangeaseed @seawalls @saveourseasfoundation The Spanish Embassy The German Embassy @neighbourgood_sa @whiteheadspainting @plasconsa @jackhammers_capetown @volcom_southafrica @jackblackbeer @mountainfallssa @wavescapesa @sj_artists_

#publicart #mural #saveouroceans #oceanconservation

PangeaSeed Foundation & Sea Walls

PangeaSeed Foundation is a global nonprofit organization acting at the intersection of culture and environmentalism to further ocean conservation. Their mission is to empower people to create meaningful environmental change for the oceans by public awareness of critical issues through SCIENCE, EDUCATION, and ARTIVISM. |

Save Our Seas Foundation

Founded in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2003, the Save Our Seas Foundation is a philanthropic organization that aims to create a legacy of securing the health and sustainability of our oceans, and communities that depend on them. It supports research, conservation and education projects that focus on endangered sharks, rays and skates.