A new mural on Kloof Nek Road by a local street artist known as Nardstar, aims to raise awareness about gender and racial inequalities.
The mural is part of an initiative sponsored by shoe brand Converse.
Nardstar, who lives in the CBD and whose real name is Nadia Fisher, said her relationship started with the brand when they asked her to customise sneakers to help raise funds for Covid-19 relief.
After the success of that project, she was asked to participate in the mural project with a theme around breaking the barriers of gender and racial inequalities.
“I thought it was a good fit because these are themes that I already explore and challenge in my art and life in general,” she said.
“This project reminded me that the representation of women of colour is so necessary and I also learnt that I can paint a whole mural with paint brushes.
“That was a first for me because I usually use spray paint. The paint I used for the mural is an eco-friendly paint that helps clean the air,” she said.
One of the requirements of the Converse mural initiative was that artists use paintbrushes rather than spray paint.
She said the inspiration behind her work is to celebrate South Africa by painting local fauna and flora and to represent and inspire women of colour.
“In the mural on Kloof Nek, I painted a black woman with a lioness beside her. The lioness is her spirit animal and represents all the women’s qualities that we can’t see on the outside, like her strength and integrity. The mural is meant to inspire women to take up space unapologetically,” she said.
She shares that she started painting the streets when she was 18. Back then, she was inspired by hip hop culture and all she wanted to do was paint graffiti – and that’s what she did for years.
“At some point I started applying what I had learnt from painting graffiti letters into painting anything besides letters and my obsession with painting walls blossomed into a career,” she said.
She said she felt that when it came to street art, South Africa was behind much of the world and that many people didn’t understand it. She also felt there was little support from government for street artists.
“There is still a stigma around it. There needs to be more legal wall spaces so that artists can practise the craft legally so that the art is more accessible.
“And the government needs to educate themselves about what has become the biggest art movement in the world and undo some of the laws around graffiti that are currently in place like the graffiti by-law in Cape Town,” she said.