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Elephant Memory

I've wanted to paint a 'wraparound' mural on the old concrete water tower for a couple of years, and had proposed an underwater kelp forest scene to Patrick Dowling back in 2019, but the project was stalled by the pandemic.

During lockdown in April 2021, I was approached by the Kommetjie CAN (Community Action Network) group to put a temporary 'Thank You' sign on the tower in gratitude to all those who were helping less fortunate members of the community to get by during the pandemic disasters.

I painted it on a large piece of shadecloth donated by Ben Kopfer and stretched it around the four sides of the tower. After the winter gales it was the worse for wear so I removed it.

Chatting to Tyran Cooper of Komsurf one day, he mentioned that he had always wanted to make a guerilla art intervention on the water tower in the form of a pink elephant! I thought this was brilliant as the tower's shape and structure lent itself to depicting a giant four-legged creature with a trunk.

I made some digital mock-ups of an elephant on the tower, having persuaded Tyran that we should shelve the delightful pink plan and rather use the existing grey concrete as the base colour to create a more realistic depiction.

Having recently collaborated with Mary-anne Potts of the KRRA Social Fabric group on the Kommetjie memorial benches, I was able to get the go-ahead to start work immediately.

As a symbol of memory an elephant would be fitting since the tower was built many years ago by Mr Jacob Daniels, a long-standing member of the community.

As an artist concerned with environmental issues I also wanted to celebrate our natural heritage, even if elephant have long since disappeared from these parts.

Tyran and I started work on the mural in Spring 2023, and after a break for the winter rains, I added the final touch of a short commemorative text on the Western side of the tower.

It reads, 'This water tower was built by Mr Jacob Daniels(1900-1983) who lived here in Kommetjie with his family until they were forced to move in 1972 under the Group Areas Act.'

It has been gratifying to hear the many appreciative comments about the mural during the past year, and I'm happy to have been able to give something back to the community that is home to me and my daughter Georgie. - By Chip Snaddon


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