Clanwilliam is a small town located in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains in the Western Cape of South Africa. For over a decade, Fairheads International Trust Company has sponsored art related projects in Clanwilliam, culminating in exhibitions, performances and lantern parades through the town.
The theme of the projects are derived from San narratives and images from the rock paintings in the surrounding mountains. Hundreds of children participate in the event every year, making paintings and objects, attending workshops and forming part of the final procession and performance.
The parade begins at dusk. The local band leads the children, carrying figures and puppets and candle-powered lanterns, wearing masks and helmets, through the township. As it darkens and the procession weaves through the streets it becomes a magical display of glowing lights hovering almost disembodied against the black mountains and the deep violet sky. Hundreds of people come pouring out of the little houses and join the parade until they reach the wood mill, where dancers make fire drawings from sawdust and actors tell stories. The whole performance is illuminated by the lanterns and evokes the first campfires and the storytelling performances of the San, who have been this project’s inspiration.