Report 2010

Download overview report with images pdf of Return to Sutherland:
returntosutherland (3.2MB)
Download overview reort of exhibition at Goethe On Main exhibition and Johannesburg Interventions:
sutherlandreflectedatgom (1MB)


Based on the project Sutherland Reflections, in January/February 2009, Bronwyn Lace and Marcus Neustetter produced a series of Johannesburg interventions and an exhibition with the Goethe Institut from August to December 2009.

Following the enthusiasm and positive response to the project by the Sutherland participants and the Johannesburg supporters, the artists Returned to Sutherland at the end of 2009 to end the International Year of Astronomy.

Return to Sutherland saw the realisation of a public exhibition of documentation of the activities earlier in the year, further experiments and projects with the participants in Sutherland and the opportunity for guests to lend their expertise and networks for the further development of the project.


Bringing in 2009’s International year of Astronomy together with the South African Astronomical Observatory in Sutherland, artists Bronwyn Lace and Marcus Neustetter launched their project with experimental interventions during the night of New Year’s Eve 2008.

These interventions on the evening of 31st December were a precursor for the following two weeks of activities that resulted in a land-art and kite-flying spectacle up to and on the 14th January 2009.

Sutherland Reflections aimed to create an experience for participation, artistic interventions and a creative spectacle in the form of a community driven kite-flying artwork. The artists’ intention was to address the current attitude and relationship between the seeming “distance” of the disadvantaged communities in Sutherland and the international neighbouring telescopic observatory. The resulting artistic interventions employed a playful activity to fill the liminal space between these two communities and where their reality lies – between the earth and the stars.

Together with youth of the Sutherland community, Lace and Neustetter played with ideas of perspective, reflection, shadows and reaching for the stars, with the intention of developing outcomes that are meaningful and thought-provoking while being spectacular, aesthetic and enchanting.

While the Sutherland Reflections project was only a two-week programme, the donated kites and creative skills that were transferred did stimulate opportunities for more kite events in the course of the year. Participating children have formed a Kite Club, this and continued contact, research and interventions are all steps towards an annual event in the line of celebrating the qualities of darkness and silence found in spaces like Sutherland.

Activities in Johannesburg:

In the same way that kites were used to transcend perceived borders in Sutherland, the artists have discovered the history of kite making in culturally diverse areas during the apartheid period before the first forced removals. The city kite interventions engaged individuals from these disrupted areas who made and flew kites as children to teach the youth who occupy these spaces now the skills required to make a successful kite and the joy of flying. These intergenerational dialogues were documented in the form of recordings and video footage and informed the exhibition at Goethe on Main. The exhibition also hosted documentation from the Sutherland Reflections project to create a profile of the activities in Sutherland.

Activities – Return to Sutherland 2009:

Exhibition of banner printed photographs from kite flying activities in public spaces of Sutherland
Printed in Johannesburg at a discounted rate with Imagez, photographs of January 2009 activities were enlarged on weatherproof materials and installed in public spaces throughout Sutherland, this intervention in the town linked neighbourhoods, created pride, awareness and support for the project. It was a wonderful acknowledgement of the participants from the beginning of the year. The banners were met with the support and enthusiasm of the public. Not only were the artists able to work with local installation teams, obtain the correct permissions easily and have public welcome the hanging of banners on and outside their homes, but previous participants of the project proudly stood by their images and this became a source of pride and celebration for represented individuals.

Kite flying and land art intervention workshops
Given the success of the previous workshops with the youth, the artists engaged more participants in activities that involved kite flying, public space experiments and playful activities, continuing the process of earlier in 2009.

Celebration and kite flying event
The artists hosted several days of kite flying in different locations, creating spectacular experiences of up to 60 fish kites flying in the sky. For the 24th December, children and adults of Sutherland participated in a kite event that brought together the activities of playing with fabric to create wind spectacles, bubble creations and a sky full of kites. The public participated by assisting with handing out food and drink, setting up their electronic keyboard and amplifier to create some tunes and assisting with managing and flying the kites.

Vinyl map of Sutherland
Following the tradition of creating an aerial map of Sutherland in January 2009, the artists worked closely with the participating youth to create two large maps of Sutherland using existing vinyl cutouts donated by BTB Signs in Johannesburg and additional new material that was purchased.

The particpants were asked to cut out and create their own map of their neighbourhood, Various of the participants also took vinyl home to create more of their own works.

Portraits and poses
Photographers Mike Carelse and Claire Griffin, having both been part of the first Sutherland Reflections project and the resulting exhibition, joined the artists in Sutherland again. They spent their time documenting the children of Sutherland and aim to create a series of images from a show called the Children of the Stars. This show may return to Sutherland in 2011 as a component of the annual event.

Donation to the Town of Sutherland
All remaining materials, kites, photographic exhibition and large banner images were donated to the people of Sutherland to be kept safe and maintained by the Tourism Center and Kamamas community development Coffee Shop. Not only have the previous donations resulted in a Kite Club for the local kids, but the artists experienced an incredible responsibility and commitment by the youth to participate in ensuring the kites can be used again. The donation from this event has added a substantial amount of kites and materials to the already existing stock from January 2009. Children interested in using the kites will be able to sign them out and in, as was done during the flying events, so that they can be maintained and monitored. The large banners will be used by the town for future events and activities to animate the space during festivities and celebrations.

Discussions and research
During kite flying events, workshops and visits to Sutherland, the artists held several meetings and conversations with various community members of Sutherland, this acts as research that informs the future of the projects currently being planned. It helps the artists to understand the dynamics of the space so as to keep their interventions respectful and sensitive to their environment.

Meeting and brainstorming
Following the success and media reach of Sutherland Reflections, key individuals and organisations had shown interest in experiencing the project. Guests were invited to participate in The Return to Sutherland and in so doing give ideas, feedback and recommendations based on their fields of expertise, networks and resources.

Our guests included:

Johann Myburg (Journalist and Visual Arts Curator for the KKNK in Oudtshoorn)
Aloisia Woergetter (Cultural attaché at Austrian Embassy Pretoria)
Kevin Govender (Education Officer at SAAO/SALT)
Carolina Odman (Universe Awareness Director and Educator Amsterdam)
Prof. Thomas Gstraunthaler, UCT
Prof. Martin Piber, University of Innsbruck
Mag. Margarete Lengger, Austrian Embassy assistant Pretoria
Gustav Praekelt, Director of Praekelt media Solutions, Johannesburg
Samantha Manclark, director of Speakers Corner
Mike Carelse, photographer, Cape Town
Claire Griffin, photographer, Cape Town
Stacey Vorster, Artist, JohannesburgProphet JD, poet, Johannesburg

Visitors were hosted by the National Arts Council, SAAO/SALT and the artists at Venus Susters. They participated in site visits, kite flying workshops, tours, discussions and self-initiated projects.

Other Interventions

Playful interventions were initiated by the artists during their visit to Sutherland. These start to address potential approaches to the landscape and artist projects in the spaces around Sutherland. temporary road sign creating awareness of the 60million year old volcano visible on the route from Sutherland to the observatory.

A temporary structure at the observatory as a sketch towards an artists observatory and visitor experience.


Based on the project’s success and networks future opportunities have been identified:

Kite Club
The continuation of the Kite Club with over 150 kites now created and donated to the children, this will run in parallel to the already existing DVD and Star-gazing Clubs.

Kamamma’s Coffee Shop
Kamammas location opposite the potential park and Kite-flying site, lends itself to various opportunities for hosting projects and programmes. It is again recommended that Kamammas be engaged for future projects.

Venus Susters
The Venus Susters guest farm is an ideal space for artists and scientists residency projects and programmes. Some ideas have already been discussed with the SAAO/SALT (Kevin Govender) and the Venus Susters.

> Hosting Artist and Scientist collaborative workshops
> Developing the Sterre Pad to the observatory
> Hosting a telescope at Venus Susters for visitors
> Developing an information service pack of the guest farm and surrounding activities

Guests to Venus Susters during December 2010 have expressed their interest in using the venue for future visits to Sutherland.

The Youth Center
Next to Kammamas Coffee Shop, in the space where the kite making workshops in 2009 took place, the SAAO/SALT are setting up a youth centre with internet terminals and basic resources. This has been identified as a major opportunity to support the local community and this initiative through art projects that should be created in partnership with the local municipality, the tourism office, SAAO/SALT and the community development projects of the area.

An annual event
Continuing discussions with the Karoo Hoogland Municipaility and the SAAO/SALT, this project has been looked at as a potential item on the programme agenda for the next year of activities in Sutherland. This is one step closer to ensuring that the project develops into an annual event attracting artists and visitors to Sutherland, but also making a creative impact in the Sutherland community.

Project Awareness

The permanent display of photographs at Kamamas and Venus Susters is an ongoing reminder of the activities of the project. The donated banner-material photographs for use outdoors and in public spaces will be used during festivities and cultural activities.

Network of visitors
The visitors that have joined the artists in Sutherland in December 2009 have already expressed interest of contributing time or resources to the future project. They have shown support by sharing ideas and networks to establish projects and programmes in Sutherland in the future.


The National Arts Council, South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), The Karoo Hoogland Municipality, The Sutherland Tourism Board and the people of Sutherland.

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