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Umlibo climate advocacy artwork on display at V&A Waterfront from Sunday 25 February

Climate change is the biggest existential threat of our time with global warming and extreme weather events already affecting vulnerable communities the most.

To put the climate crisis into visual perspective, a group of talented artists from the Keiskamma Art Project in the Eastern Cape of South Africa conceptualised this large tapestry called Umlibo.

The 43 artists, mainly women, are from the tiny coastal town – and surrounding villages – of Hamburg located at the mouth of the Keiskamma River.

With funding from the government of Flanders, WWF South Africa commissioned this impressive artwork as part of a community advocacy project focusing on climate impacts, sustainable alternative livelihoods and marine ecosystems.

The artists decided to call their work Umlibo in reference to the sprawling pumpkin vine – a symbol of the need to spread the word about climate impacts and the urgent action needed to change our current trajectory.

In December 2023, Umlibo went on display at the COP28 climate negotiations in Dubai, where it was the backdrop to many critical high-level conversations about climate change.

While in Dubai, it caught the eye of South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa who said Umlibo contained everything any head of state needed to say about climate change as it talked about “real impacts and aspirations, contemporary issues and the future we want”.

Here at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, Umlibo continues its advocacy journey, spreading the message, much like the pumpkin vine from which it takes its name, about the need for urgent climate action now!