Saturday, February 6, 2010


KaiKai is the Nama word for "to cultivate, to elevate with praise or to nurture with pride". It is the name that Jimmy du Toit has given to the residential coastal estate he is developing at Port Nolloth in the Richtersveld, South Africa.

At first glance, Port Nolloth seems to be an isolated, tired little coastal town surrounded by barren landscape but if you take a stroll down to the beach you will be astounded to see, rising up out of the sands, a Gaudi-esque mosaic wall that is about to put Port Nolloth on the map. It is called The Wall of Expression. See more amazing photographs, here.

Jimmy du Toit had the bright idea of involving the community in the creation of the boundary wall between Kaikai and the rural surrounds. It is not a solid wall but rather a series of installations and collumns intersperced with open spaces.

The art of mosaic has been taught to members of the community and at the moment there are more than 65 people permanantly employed on site. For most, finding artistic expression in mosaic, is a new experience and at the end of the 5 to 10 years that it should take to complete the housing estate, the artisans will be fully trained and quite able to work independently.

I found this photograph on the blog Missing Voyage

The names of the people living in the area are spelt out on the wall of honour. 1500 Names to date and many more to go before the anticipated 12000 is reached.

When I was telling my husband about this project, he said..."Port Nolloth? Thats the back end of nowhere".

Jimmy du Toit remarked that "Port Nolloth is a place that's hard to like at first and then hard not to love."

I love the cubes going out to sea.
Paula wondered how the cubes were not washed out to sea and today the developers wife, Annelize du Toit added her comment.
"I have especially been enjoying everybody's facination with the mosaic cubes on the beach and am not sure whether I should give it all away.
Jimmy set it up as a temporary interactive art installation on 24 October 2009 between the low and high water marks on a beach area protected by a ridge and thus having fairly mild wave action. Even so, more and more cubes are thrown over by every high tide. Interestingly enough they remain in the grid formation and do not get scattered around.
The cubes have since been removed after being used for a similar beach installation between christmas and new year. They are now in storage until next time..."
Thanks so much for adding your comment, Annelize.

The blog Missing Voyage (below) will give you a broader view of Port Nolloth.
You might also find the archaeological assessment of the area interesting.


  1. this is a very interesting project - thanks for writing about it and posting the great photos to go with it.

  2. those cubes are do they keep from getting sucked out to sea? thats my favorite part of this! what a find robyn!

  3. Your scepticism no doubt lies in the motivations of the developer. It may turn out alright, especially when one considers the alternative future for the community.

  4. An interesting concept. And then what is the question. I wish them well.

  5. This is absolutely terrific! I've visited three blogs this morning and gone on walks by the seashore and to places that don't exist. And I just want more! I loved the artist name "Wonkie de Met" and wonder if "he's" real? - Jeanne in Oregon

  6. Thank you for your larger than life posts. Have taken one mosaic class, just registering for a second in late February. This opens a whole new window of thinking.

  7. What an incredible project!

    I wish I could visit the site and experience the very old alongside the ultra modern.

    ...and of course I love the colours!

  8. oh my goodness... this is one of the most uplifting things i've ever seen! very very inspiring. thank you, robyn... xo

  9. I just think it is so fantastic to teach people to create, to have a skill like mosaics is so expressive and I love the idea that it is not closed but a series of walls with open spaces! que bella! xo

  10. Thanks Robyn. What an interesting post. I like the idea of the community taking control of this project. It is a type of monument really.

  11. This mosaic art is wonderful...I especially love those mosaiced cubes leading out into the sea. This art will change this "back of nowhere" place - I know I would love to visit now!
    Art as transformation.

    Jacky xox

  12. Thanks for the email R.

    for bringing this to my attention. What a wonderful idea, I especially like the mosaic cubes going out to sea.

  13. What a wonderful idea, there should be more of it.

  14. Love the wall of separate walls...Love the community involvement with the mosaics!

    I must confess I'm worried about wildlife such as nesting turtles getting blocked or injured on the cubes..?

  15. This place is incredible! It makes me think how much time I waste here pondering things when I could be creating wonderful stuff like this in "the back end of nowhere"! I think it just confirms how creative people can be and that it doesn't matter really "where" you live, you can make it beautiful no matter what.

  16. What a unique and inspiring place.

  17. Glad you are back and with this wonderful post, we have done a couple of small mosaics in our town (note to self, take photos) and I know how uplifting this can be and really gets a community going.
    I hope it all works out well for them.

  18. Oh Robyn, I've missed visiting your space - I can't just pop by for a quick taste because, as always, it's a feast!!!

    I love this mosaic project - even in the back of beyond, creativity thrives! :)

    And the WV is "bless", seems appropriate somehow

  19. Oh and I popped over to look at alexisanne's photostream (the butterflies and moths drew me in!) and love her work - beautiful!

  20. The mosiac cubes venturing into the sea are an interesting and unique concept. I like this way of bringing together a sense of community.. but there are always other motives...even with the best of intentions...

  21. Robyn this is so beautiful...and how awesome that part of the creation of this art is also give new artists a chance to develop their skills. Really wonderful post. Thanks for sharing this.

  22. I especially like the shot of the mosaics with the seawater. It reminds me of the riverbed with shiva lingams that I saw at Kulen Mountain in Cambodia.

  23. This is amazing stuff. How inspiring.

  24. Robyn, I love the way I always discover new types of art here with you, new surfaces, new mediums and designs...
    I went and explored the "Wall of Expression" and it's artists and am in awe. thanks, roxanne

  25. WOW! What a wonderful way to bring community into art making. I will explore this with the link provided. Reminds me of the beauty of Niki de St. Phalle's tarot mosaic garden near Tuscany. What a beautiful expressive world!

  26. little bits of clay
    adhered to small blocks
    all being washed by the sea
    in a place called nowhere
    seen by people everywhere
    all thanks to a post
    on a blog
    by an artist
    called robyn

  27. How strange and wonderful! Those cubes in the sea are cool.

  28. This is such an inspired and inspiring project Robyn! Art truly does build and sustain communities, and this is an amazing example of how that can be. absolutely wonderful!

  29. Thanks for this super post, Robyn. What an amazing place - I enjoyed reading about it!

  30. These are wonderful. Thanks for posting them. (I knew as I looked at them that HHnB would be enthused!)

  31. THis area looks like a land developer and a spin doctor went hand in hand.

    They knew what to do to manipulate consent and pblic opinion on the area.

    Luckily they also had good taste so the public art is attractive and inclusive.

  32. WondrousStrange, Amazing indeed!

    Hi Theresa, I just love those cubes!

    Paula, I think the cubes are at the high tide mark but I'm still not sure how the water doesn't undermine and topple them.

    Pamela, there are a lot of positives but I am worried about a few things. Have a look at the archaeological link at the end of the post. They have found huge middens of fossils, pot shards, ostrich eggshell beads and ancient stone tools.

    Lisa at Greenbow, it is a wonderful concept.

    Jeanne (Femminismo), yes I'm sure he is real and that Wonkie de Wet is his name. I've come across some wonderful descriptive names in South Africa. Beauty, Gift, Gladness, Blessing, Pleasant, Hilarious, Freedom and hundreds more.

    Renee Howell, looking forward to seeing what you create!

    Chris, glorious colours! There are quiet areas which is a nice balance.

    Lynne H, glad you are inspired!

    Cat, I wouldn't have minded joining in.

    Margaret, imagine seeing these huge mosaic columns rising out of the mist.

    Jacky, the cubes are my favourite mosaics on this project.

    HHnB, thought you would drool!

    Ro, I think the idea is catching on.

    DJ, I have a few worries myself but hopefully the positives far outweigh them.

    Teri, isn't it amazing how creative people can be!

    Seth, indeed!

    Penny, I'd love to see photos of your community mosaics.

    Kendalee, alexisanne's work is so different isn't it? Did you realize the plant stems and twigs actually spell something?

    Lisa, yes that is exactly what I was thinking and I originally remarked on the negatives but decided not to be a damper on such an uplifting concept.

    Laura, so glad you enjoyed it.

    NuminosityBeads, it's great seeing the water flowing around the cubes.

    Zappha, imagine being a part of the art team?

    Roxanne, yes there are awesome photographs of the progress on the Kaikai website.

    MaryAnn, Oh I love Nikki de St. Phalle's mosaics too!

    Joan, your poem made my day!

    Don, exactly!

    Karin, I knew you would enjoy this!

  33. Thank you Robyn for the beautiful blog post and everybody else for all the wonderful comments!

    I have especially been enjoying everybody's facination with the mosaic cubes on the beach and are not sure whether I should give it all away.

    Jimmy set it up as a temporary interactive art installation on 24 October 2009 between the low and high water marks on a beach area protected by a ridge and thus having fairly mild wave action. Even so, more and more cubes are thrown over by every high tide. Interestingly enough they remain in the grid formation and do not get scattered around.

    The cubes have since been removed after being used for a similar beach installation between christmas and new year. They are now in storage until next time...

  34. I admire these people. What innovative spirits. Wouldn't I love to see characters like this get involved with my city's planning!

  35. This is just amazing! I am so excited about the project and the way the community is being brought into somthing that will have such a profound impact on their surroundings. Thank you for sharing somoething that I wouldn't have otherwise seen.

  36. Art could heal the world.
    Thank you for this Robyn.

  37. Absolutely fascinating find Robyn and a great opportunity for the people to learn a creative art such as mosaic.

  38. What a great place! I love how the residents are involved in something that is evolving over the years.

  39. Amazing, thanx for sharing it.
    Have a great day!

  40. AWE! What a terrific project..... so inspiring. You know how partial I am to! Thank you for bringing this to us!

  41. You are right, this is remarkable. Fantastic. A dream. Thanks for finding and sharing it, I will be doing the same, :-).

  42. I love the cubes going to sea!
    Funny, in American Gay Slang, Kai Kai is when you sleep with your (non-blood) "brother" or "sister"...essentially when your best friend is also a sexual partner, but *not* a lover. Don't ask me how it came to be called that, I have no idea!

  43. thought i commented...

    love that the :fence" in a sense breathes opens in links, like we do as humanity. love the way the sea washes the descending steps as if they were representing feet on a path, washed by that cleansing touch. A hope symbol in so many ways, ironically.

    thanda to u.

  44. The cubes- what a genius idea! Thank you for posting this, it inspires me to be more creative and intelligent with my own fashion design.

  45. I agree with you. I like the cubes going out to sea too.

  46. Greetings Robyn,

    This is a most wonderful post.

    Even though I work mostly as a painter, I have been shifting some of my interests to outdoor art, creating mini towers, shrines in the garden. So for me this posting of yours was not only mentally stimulating, it was also inspirational.

    Thank you for sharing,

  47. I added that image of the lingams in the river bed in one of my recent posts on my blog.

  48. I am in love with the wall, totally in love... no, it's the cubes.. the cubes are so perfect, so much movement.. maybe it's the art then the water=movement. As a young girl, I walked the beach for hours. Loved the sound, the movement. To add art to it... makes it perfect. thank you for sharing this...

  49. I have no word to say anything about this stunning Mosaic art.Thanks for sharing

    1. I've enjoyed re-visiting this post. Thanks Mosaic south africa.