Once Upon A Town in Riebeek West

Internationally renowned street artist, Falko, is travelling across SA, painting towns as he goes.
Once Upon A Town Riebeek Wes
Falko © Luke Daniel/Red Bull Content Pool
By Luke Daniel

Falko has itchy feet. Recently his street art has taken him from his beloved Cape Town to Singapore, Dubai and beyond. Now, in search of something closer to his core, he has embarked on a journey across South Africa, painting towns, small dorpies and settlements as he goes.

His mission: To change the locals’ perception of value.

Along to document the voyage that is ONCE UPON A TOWN, is photographer Luke Daniel. Luke will be blogging on the road, these are his musings from stop one, Riebeek West:

Winding down Bothmanskloof Pass on a warm Easter Sunday evening, buzzing past small Swartland grape vineyards and standalone white cottages. Passing through Riebeek Kasteel, skipping the luxury of a stop at the Royal Hotel, and heading a bit further down the R311 towards Riebeek West, which is the smaller, seldom explored and less developed neighbour to Kasteel.

Dusty dirt roads weave throughout the small town, between modest homes, a church and a liquor store. Easter Sunday church service ends, and the quiet streets begin to fill with locals, immaculately dressed, and clutching bibles.

Their gaze is fixed on Falko, who’s painting a wall on the opposite side of the street. Graffiti is usually greeted with apprehension, especially in conservative small-town South Africa. But somehow it’s different here – the locals are receptive and enthused about the artwork. The evolving artwork becomes a social gathering for residents of Riebeek West – small town fascination brings the community together, it awakens the usually sleepy town.

I meet a man called Kurt, who towers above me, his gold chain gleaming around his muscular neck. He’s not a local of Riebeek West, but he’s not a visitor either. He’s a trucker and diesel mechanic from Parkwood in Cape Town, who fell in-love with Drieka, who has been living in Riebeek West her whole life. Drieka was working at a café on main road, on the commercial side of town, when Kurt passed by, hauling supplies up to Moorreesburg. It’s got all the makings of a small town South African romantic novel – Kurt drives from Cape Town to Riebeek West every Thursday after work, to spend the weekends with Drieka.

Once Upon A Town Riebeek Wes
Kurt & Drieka © Luke Daniel/Red Bull Content Pool

“We broke down the school up there. I was trucking bricks and cement out of here for a couple of months”, Kurt tells me about an old school building that stood at the bottom of Kasteelberg.

Once Upon A Town Riebeek Wes
That's Luke on the right there © Luke Daniel/Red Bull Content Pool

We talk about cars, Cape Town and the need to escape the permanent hustle of the City. “For me, this is where I get to relax. I leave all my work, all my worries back in Cape Town. It’s a small town, everyone knows each other. People are friendly here and life moves at a slower pace. I’m hoping to move here permanently before the end of the year. Start a new life, away from all the shit in the city.”

Follow their journey and check out more images from the first stop, here.

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