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About the artists

The striking illustrations in this Report are original works from the !Xun and Khwe Community, probably the largest settlement of the San or Bushmen, the indigenous people of Southern Africa. They were created between 1994 and 2006 and are reproduced by kind permission of Hella Rabbethge-Schiller, who owns the world's largest private collection of this art.

These unique pieces – oil paintings, mixed media on paper and linocuts – are a testament to the spirit of their creators, who have produced extraordinary art in troubled circumstances. Originally refugees from Namibia and Angola, traumatized by civil war and persecution, they found their home in 2002 in a township called Platfontein, a farm ceded to them by the South African government, near Kimberley in South Africa's Northern Cape.

The collector's relationship with South Africa dates back to her childhood which she spent on a small farm near Kimberley. Inspired by the vitality and creativity of the San works, she has been supporting the artists and their community since the early 1990s by collecting and promoting their art – and so encouraging them to continue. At her suggestion, 60% of the royalties for the use of the work in this Report will revert back to the Community.

Many of these works featured in an early exhibition, entitled Memory and Magic, and which is now a book (published by Jacana Media in Johannesburg and available from them at www.jacana.co.za). The Magic of the title refers to the belief systems which the artists, many of them illiterate and with no formal training, say inform their work – illustrating their history, bridging the modern world and the myths of their ancestors.

Many of the artists were raised in the hunter-gatherer tradition. Every piece tells a story. Dreams often feature in the work, as do memories of life in their homelands.

Hella Rabbethge-Schiller now lives in Rosenheim, Germany, where she continues to promote San art. Her collection, an important part of South Africa's cultural heritage, has been exhibited worldwide.

It has given WPP much pleasure to showcase the remarkable works from the San people. WPP companies have had a presence in the African continent since 1928. In 2007, between them, 21 WPP companies operated in 23 African countries.

all images used in site
  1. Bushman, Giraffe and Huts, 1996, Joao W. Dikuanga
  2. Corn, 1995, Flai Shipipa
  3. Animals of the Bush, 1994, Alois Sijaja
  4. Baobabs and Storm Clouds, 1994, Stefaans Samcuia
  5. Only Tree and Gemsbuck, 1996, Stefaans Samcuia
  6. Basket, 1996 Donna Rumao (featured on back cover)
  7. Vehicle Fright, Joao W. Dikuanga
  8. Red Buck, 2001, Stefaans Samcuia
  9. Untitled, 1994, Stefaans Samcuia
  10. Trees and Moons, 1994, Flai Shipipa
  11. Two Gemsbuck, 1996, Stefaans Samcuia
  12. Man and Woman Sitting, 1994, Stefaans Samcuia
  13. Elephants and Fish, 2001, Fercianao Ndala
  14. Circles, 1995, Donna Rumao
  15. Elephant Blue, 1995, Stefaans Samcuia

Details

from Eland, Stefaans Samcuia

from Two Buck, Andry Kashivi

from Two Elephants and Five Buck, Katunga Carimbwe

from Frog and Shimboamba, Flai Shipipa

from Animals and Frogs, Monto Masako

from Six Buck, Flai Shipipa

from Two Giraffes, M. Masseka