The Stellenbosch Triennale will explore the past and future of the picturesque town.

Helen Nabukenya Covers Stellenbosch in Giant Textile Installation For Triennale

Helen Nabukenya, Stellenbosch Triennale
From left: Maps Maponyane, Kwena Baloyi, Rochelle Nembhard, Anelisa Mangcu and Rich Mnisi in front of 'Kawuuwo' by Helen Nabukenya.


Ugandan artist Helen Nabukenya has opened the forthcoming Stellenbosch Triennale with a spectacular textile installation. Hand-sown in Kampala, the work covers the entire facade of a historic Cape Dutch building in the university town. The work is entitled 'Kawuuwo', a term in Luganda used to describe a piece of plantain leaf used to cover the matooke plaintain when it is cooking. It was made from old upholstery fabric samples donated by Stellenbosch's Supreme Upholstery, as well as other colourful bits and pieces collected from participating parade teams at the Cape Carnival. 

Nabukenya explained at the opening address of the Triennale – an  art exhibition planned for 2020 that is going to fill Stellenbosch with African art and explore what it means to connect with past and future – that her artwork speaks to the history of the building of Voorgelegen being destroyed in a great fire, its rebuilding, and then it again almost being burnt to the ground. 

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Helen Nabunkenya, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch Triennale

'The artwork is a process to encourage preservation of the valuable historical, architectural and horticultural importance of this space. The process of gathering and stitching textile offcuts into an installation that is draped on the building represents the collecting and recording of its history,' says Nabukenya. She added that the use of tones and shades of green ' a sign of life and nature; a form of renewal, growth and harmony which I anticipate for the future of Voorgelegen. Coming from a tropical nation, the green is also a representation of my engagement with the community and inclusive protection of its history'.

At the Triennale's soft launch recently, curators announced what they are doing, and also that they will, until 2020, be slowly releasing names of the participating artists, starting with Helen Nabukenya. They also revealed the theme of the 2020 Stellenbosch Triennale: 'Tomorrow There Will Be More Of Us', which the curators explain is about remembering through the process of an ancestral awakening. 

For more about the Stellenbosch Triennale head to