Artist Alliance applications open

Nqaba “Shakes” Mbolekwana unveils his first solo exhibition, called The Hangover, at the entrance of the Waterfront.

Applications are open for the V&A Waterfront’s Artist Alliance, an arts incubation and development programme aimed at Cape Town’s young creative talent looking for a mentorship platform.

The Waterfront launched the opening of applications, which close on Monday July 31, alongside a public exhibition called The Hangover by one of the Artist Alliance alumni and mentors, Nqaba “Shakes” Mbolekwana, from the city centre.

The exhibition is a series of photographs reflecting apartheid, documenting what has been left behind as a result. The photographs are up for the public to view at the entrance of the Waterfront.

Launched in 2021, the Artist Alliance’s aim is to support and mentor young creatives in fine art, photography, film, illustration, graphic design and music production.

The next cohort of 12 selected artists will go through a six-month programme – now longer than its previous two-month period – of practical experience and skills through a combination of online sessions with mentors as well as group dialogues.

The young creatives who have been selected will receive essential business skills such as marketing, learning to pitch for new business and running social media platforms.

Art Alliance Alumni and ambassadors Richard Average, from Somerset West, Mbhali Manzini from the city centre and Nqaba “Shakes” Mbolekwana, also from the city centre.

Three artists who previously graduated from the Artist Alliance programme have been selected as ambassadors and will be on hand to provide mentorship as well as share their own experiences of the programme. The mentors are Mr Mbolekwana, illustrator and painter Mbhali Manzini from the city centre, and Richard Average, from Somerset West.

Some of the alumni’s works can be seen in the Waterfront’s public space and marketing campaigns.

Waterfront’s marketing executive Tinyiko Mageza said the idea for supporting creative talent was born in 2019, when the management team at the Waterfront thought about how they could break up the marketing value chain to include young artists and creatives and give them business opportunities and exposure.

She said they work with different artists to beautify open spaces between buildings, in marketing campaigns, and this also follows on from the Waterfront’s other incubator programmes such as the Buskers Programme and, more recently, the Makers Landing incubation programme for small food businesses.

“Young creatives in South Africa play an important role in contributing towards the country’s broader economy, yet face numerous economic challenges including lack of opportunities to learn, to exhibit their works, financial and copyright challenges, and lack of support to grow their craft. The Artist Alliance programme aims to address these challenges.”

Mr Mbolekwana was part of the first cohort to graduate from the programme in 2021, and said The Hangover, his first solo exhibition, was documented from 2016 to 2023. “It’s a long body of work but the 20 images selected were ones I thought could carry the work.”

He said the alliance gave him an opportunity to showcase his work publicly and access spaces, which is a “bit of a privilege.”

He said there were not many photography exhibitions in the country, so to have his blown up attracts international audiences who go to the Waterfront.“

Mr Mbolekwana said he is now working on a book to display his work, and would love to form part of group exhibitions.

Graffiti artist from Woodstock Chad Hanning, aka Bushy Wopp.

Graffiti artist from Woodstock Chad Hanning, whose artist name is Bushy Wopp, started working with the Waterfront in 2019 and his comical-style, colourful mural works can be seen all over the precinct, especially at Battery Park and along the canal, where he is currently working.

He said the Waterfront is a great platform for exposure. “This partnership has elevated my career and taken me to different places in the city and country.”

Chad Henning’s current work at the canal in Battery Park

His works can also be seen in other parts of the city, including Woodstock, Salt River, Mitchell’s Plain and the CBD.

To apply for the Artist Alliance programme, candidates must be aged between 18 and 30 and based in Cape Town. They must submit a portfolio of their work, including a motivational letter or video.

Successful candidates will be selected by early September.

Visit to access the application form. If internet is unavailable, the application can be received from V&A Waterfront’s offices in Dock Road.