“INHEEMS”: A Celebration of Indigenous Art by Hessequa High School Students

Nov 16, 2023 | General News

Back in May 2023, Louise Kluyts (Chair of the Hessequa Art Route) and Linda Fletcher (GCBR Sustainability Manager), were discussing the need and their respective desires to bring art and environmental awareness to high school students in the Hessequa region. Art can be such an important outlet for young people to express themselves, yet none of the public schools in the district offer this as a subject. Within the district we have incredibly rich biodiversity; the entire Hessequa region falls within the Gouritz Cluster Biosphere Reserve (GCBR) domain. They wanted to create an opportunity for the teenagers of this district to celebrate the indigenous wonders in their local area.

This is how the “Inheems: Tiener Kuns-kompetisie” (Indigenous: Teen Art Competition) was born!

The GCBR, Hessequa Art Route, and Hessequa Libraries joined forces to develop and implement this initiative, united by the potential benefits of this project.

Inheems Art Competition Hessequa
To kick this project off, students from Star Nation Art Studio, Hile du Plessis and Zanel Meyer, designed a poster to invite Hessequa Teens to participate. The local newspaper shared the story and social media influencer, “Lekker Nikki”, got behind the initiative.
In August 2023, representatives from the Hessequa Libraries and the Art Route visited most of the public schools within the district to introduce the competition, and to share information about the GCBR and what makes this region so special.
As the teenagers from the Hessequa district started handing their artwork in at the public libraries in their towns, we were blown away by the quality of the submissions and the talent they displayed through their interpretation of the theme. It was so inspiring to see “inheems” represented through landscape portraits of our majestic mountains; indigenous plant species such as Proteas, Aloes and Tritonias; portraits of indigenous people; iconic animals like the Cape Leopard, and endemic species like the Strawberry Rain Frog.

The panel of judges from the Hessequa Art Route certainly had a challenge determining the winners within the four categories of drawing, painting, photography and digital art.

During the build-up to the exhibition, various individuals from the GCBR, Hessequa Art Route, Hessequa Municipality, and the community assisted in planning, organising, marketing and setting up the event. Thanks to the generous donations of glorious fynbos we received from Geel Mossie, Mont Blanc Flora and Van Den Berg Boerdery, the venue was transformed to reflect the theme perfectly.

Inheems Art Exhibition Hessequa
On Wednesday, 25 October, the inaugural “Inheems” Art Exhibition opened its doors at the Riversdale Civic Centre. Approximately 200 guests were welcomed and got to see the 150 entries that were submitted by teenagers from towns across the Hessequa district.
Inheems Exhibition
In the evening a prize giving was hosted by Hessequa Speaker, Andrew Stroebel, to honour the winners from each category who received a certificate and their prize money.

Congratulations to all the winners of the 2023 “INHEEMS: TIENER KUNS-KOMPETISIE”:


Inheems Art exhibition

1st place: Bailey Lotterie; 2nd place: Zanél Meyer and 3rd place: Marni Nothnagel.

Merit awards: Georgina Thornley, Monica Ferrer & Marinda Koen.


Art exhibition hessequa
1st place: Bea Badenhorst; 2nd place Cara Serfontein; 3rd place: Emilie Lotterie.

Merit awards: Hilè du Plessis; Robyn Minnie & Rivkah van der Merwe.


Art competition hessequa
1st place: Johannes Nothnagel; 2nd place: Mia Du Plessis; 3rd place: Jodie Basson.

Merit awards: Merit: Asheequa Booysen; Lee-Ann Beukes & JJ Pfaff.

Graphic Design

Art competition hessequa
1st place: Monica Ferrer; 2nd place: Reine Du Plessis; 3rd place: Jadewin Heradien.
Photography merit: Asheequa Booysen
Photography merit: Asheequa Booysen
Photography merit: Asheequa Booysen
Graphic design 3rd place: Jadewin Heradien
Photography merit: Asheequa Booysen
Painting 3rd place: Emilie Lotterie

We were so pleased with the turnout and the support for this first-time initiative, but did not anticipate the depth of the impact it would make. The expression of gratitude that has poured in from students, parents, teachers and the community has been overwhelming.

This was a truly collaborative project where so many people went above and beyond to make the event a success, for which we are immensely grateful! A few special mentions and heartfelt thanks to the following people:

Ursula Oosthuizen, and her incredible team from the Hessequa Library Manager;
Marilise Lombard, Janet Muller, Nicole Hein, Nakita Joubert, Sonja Margerison, CJ de Swardt and Louise Kluyts from the Hessequa Art Route;

Linda Fletcher, Riette Error, Lee-Ann Pretorius and Nelisiwe Khusi from the GCBR;

Abassador “Lekker Nikki”, and Andrew Stroebel from the Hessequa Municipality.

Above all, we thank the teenagers of Hessequa for embracing this challenge and celebrating our indigenous wonders; your creativity and enthusiasm are inspiring!

As for Inheems 2024? Watch this space…

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