The Story of a Ceramic Wall

A collaboration most often inspires the end product, and shows so much more than just the sum of its parts.

We love the story of this wall at Bosjes in the Western Cape and how two artists, Michael Chandler and Lucie de Moyencourt, came together to create a working piece of art that will stand the test of time. And it all started with just a chard while they were on their first site visit. 

The Tree of Life is a powerful symbol in many cultures, across many centuries and so it seemed a fitting subject for our mural. The tree was also a device that would allow us to reference the unique fauna and flora that is indigenous to the valley that the farm is nestled in.  Right from the start, the Tree idea just felt right. And once you know deep down that something is right – there’s very little you can do to change it” – Michael Chandler from Chandler House.

Everything was included for a reason.
Here are some fun facts about the mural and tips on what to look out for when you’re out there looking up at the wall …

– The mural has over 100 individual specimens of fauna and flora that are indigenous to the area.

– Some contemporary motifs are included – Apple’s logo, emojis etc to capture the zeitgeist of our age.

– The ‘Spirit of the Farm’ is the serpentine, feathered element which wraps itself up and around the tree. The body of this element is filled with little cartouches which were painted by the children of the farm. They wanted them to feel like they were an important part of the future of the farm and that one day they would be proud to show their grandchildren their contribution to the mural.

– The chameleon is a copy of a watercolour study that Lady Anne Barnard made when she lived in the Cape in the late 18th Century.

– The hatch features plants and animals that change depending if they hatch is open or closed (day or night).

– The gable of the farm features Pineapples – a symbol of hospitality. The pineapple that grows on the tree features gable-inspired scales.

– Lucie and Michael painted themselves in the work as two birds. They can be seen with a pair of binoculars at the very top of the mural.

”Ceramics cannot be melted, they do not rust or rot; they simply break down into smaller pieces of themselves.
Our wall will outlive both of us. It will outlive the children on the farm who helped us paint it and the owners of the farm too.
In two hundred years time people may gaze up to it and wonder what some of the creatures are, as they were last seen in 2074″.

Extracts and image courtesy of

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