Not only is Cape Town boasting the construction of the greenest hotel in Africa, but the hotel owners and operators – who are taking environmental responsibility, awareness and education very seriously – have extended the green thinking into classrooms.
Hotel Verde, part of the recently launched BON Hotels, is under construction at the Cape Town International Airport vicinity. The owners, Mario and Annemarie Delicio, have initiated and funded a project allowing grade 11 art students to decorate the walls of their green hotel. The project, driven by Niklas Zimmer, art consultant and Masters graduate of the Michaelis School of Fine Art (UCT), sees 45 grade 11 learners from various schools within the airport vicinity researching environmental responsibility and conceptualising and producing artworks in a variety of media which will form part of the hotel’s art collection. Annemarie Delicio’s passion for art and social upliftment is what initiated the project. She says, “Our thought behind this project was to help these students, who have limited, if any, access to art studies at their schools by giving them the best tools, teachers and facilities available to do what they love and what they are good at.”
“The progress and dedication has been amazing,” says Zimmer. “We started with 21 schools within the airport vicinity and we narrowed it down to five, from which we selected 45 students … these students have at times worked 18 hours non-stop on their art pieces.”
The project is taking place at the Frank Joubert Art Centre in Newlands, Cape Town. Director Liesl Hartman explains, “This real life project has been extremely beneficial for the learners, not only have they researched environmental issues within their own neighbourhood, but they have also learnt how to produce work for a real client.” Divided into four sub-themes, the artworks range from detailed abstracts to paintings. One group of children has studied the biodiversity of trees and the aerial visual effects this has had on the environment, and translated this to their artwork. Another group has worked on a series of mixed media collages, looking specifically at the relationship between the urban environment and the wetland areas closest to Cape Town International Airport.
“The plan,” says Zimmer, “is for these finished works to be translated by local crafters and artists into suitable mediums such as sewing, beading and mosaic. The finished works will then be exhibited on the four floors of the hotel, along with credits to each child and craft professional.
Guy Stehlik, founder of BON Hotels, who will manage and operate Hotel Verde, has embraced the project and believes that “creative ways for BON Hotels to collaborate with their immediate and broader community is an essential part of what we do daily and what we stand for: Good people. Good thinking. Good feeling.”