An African story of the Mother City exhibition

Farm Design was asked to design and build an exhibition telling the story of the struggle for housing for black people in the Western Cape. Groups of women from Modderdam, Crossroads, Nyanga Bush and KTC won the right for African women and men to live with their families and work freely in the Western Cape. They did this with political ingenuity in the face of an apartheid Government whose officials used the law, the police, the army and finally vigilantes to fight them.

The exhibition had to be self-standing, portable and durable. Farm Design designed interlocking card board panels onto which the graphics were printed. This material also referred to the flimsy impermanent nature of the shelters that was “home” for so many people.

The exhibition opened in St. Georges Cathedral in Cape Town, then travelled to the Slave Lodge and Guga S’thebe Hetitage Project in Langa.

This story, fore-grounded by the group from Nyanga Bush that fasted in the Cathedral, reveals the deep pain, suffering, and structural violence African women and men experience at a particular moment in the history of the City of Cape Town. The telling of this story, thirty years after the event, evokes a much larger narrative that lies behind and beneath the fast – how thousands of black women and men, classified as African, eventually broke the back of influx control in the western part of the Cape Province.

Some of the possessions of the original group of people that came to fast in the Cathedral were displayed in the “shack” at the centre of the exhibition.

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Elsabe Gelderblom
Elsabe is the Creative director: Graphic Design at Farm Design. The company is located on the slopes of Table Mountain in the beautiful Cape Town. After years of experience in the design and advertising of fast-moving consumer goods, Elsabe wanted to do “design that makes a difference”. She therefor concentrates on academic and advocacy work for issues that she considers as important. These include climate change, human rights and law. Her particular skill is in making content easy to understand, interesting to engage with, and accessible. Elsabe loves technology and code. She started learning HTML in the mid eighties and has been on the learning treadmill ever since. She is able to do both the front end design and the back-end installation of websites. She believes that a good job is always a collaborative undertaking – a good brief with a clear target market, quality research and writing polished with detailed editing, uncluttered design with a purpose, and meticulous proofing. Farm Design’s clients and collaborators are situated from Cape Town to the UK, Canada, US, and various countries across Africa. Elsabe holds a BA degree in Graphic Design from Stellenbosch University, with majors in Design and Photography. In the creative industry you are often asked about awards won. Though she has received a Loerie Award for design, from the USA the Clio Gold Award and the Communications Arts Annual Award of Excellence, she considers her best award to be the clients she has worked with for decades.