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Meet Steven (2016)

Since the “Colourful Busshelters” mural project in 2009, Steven van Niekerk, an artist from Manenberg, had worked on numerous projects and student exchanges as the leader of creative sub-projects.

Now he was to spend three weeks in April 2016 getting to know Aachen, local life and German side of the Aachen-Cape Town partnership. During this time, he stayed with his colleague Uta Göbel-Groß at the Alte Windkunst in Herzogenrath.

There he experienced a communal form of living and in Uta’s studio and studio space Prozitron, the two of them were able to work together and together with other colleagues of Uta. Steven was able to develop some new works during this time, learnt new techniques and also gave instructions himself. In a workshop at FrauenKomm.Gleis1, Herzogenrath, Steven acted as a lecturer and taught the course classical portrait painting. With his charm and humour, he easily transcended language barriers. The participants were enthusiastic.

Steven soaked up the art on offer in Aachen’s galleries and museums with great curiosity and interest – and also used it as a source of ideas for his own new works. There was an immense exchange about art and architecture, history and culture, country and people, life here and there in South Africa.

“Meet Steven” – under this motto, we celebrated his farewell on 18 April 2016 with a party and the presentation of his works in the Prozitron studio. He was able to sell some of his works, while the others were exhibited at Café Mundo in the Welthaus until the end of the year.

For Steven, the stay in Aachen was a great experience, but also a great challenge: his first flight, his first time abroad – and on a different continent – and the first time away from his family. While he spent three weeks here among friends, his family in the centre of Manenberg was exposed to the violent riots and fights of the local gangs. His phone calls with his wife were characterised by tension and worry. Before the flight home, he honestly said that he was looking forward to being able to protect his family again soon.