Centre to capture fishing history

Kalk Bay has a rich history and those who love the community now hope to create a museum and edcution centre in the area.

The unique fishing history in Kalk Bay is the beating heart behind the little community but often goes unacknowledged by those who frequent the area.

Behind the colourful store-fronts and buzzing restaurants lies the tale of the beginning of fishing in Cape Town.

Generations of fishermen still make a living in the area, having survived tumultuous waves, including the threat of forced removal during apartheid.

Those who live in the fisherman’s flats, concealed from the main road, have great stories to tell of the area’s history and still try to make a comfortable living off the dock.

Kalk Bay resident Eva Adams-Hart and Glencairn resident Donald Barnett are now hoping to honour the community and its rich history by creating a museum and art centre in the area to capture the heritage left behind by fishers past and present and provide a space for skills training.

“It is important to remember our roots, my dad has been in the fishing industry for over 60 years. There are generations and generations of fishermen and the stories my dad tells me of the changes which have taken place over the years is amazing.

“The fishing industry is not what it used to be and there are no upliftment programmes or skills development programmes in the area. I have been working for an NGO, eMzantsi, for the last 12 years I have helped with skills development programmes,” said Ms Adams-Hart.

She is currently working on the project proposal with Mr Barnett and hopes to get input and assistance from members of the Kalk Bay community to make the project their own and develop a space for cultural acknowledgement and development.

They envision that the museum and art centre would provide weekday training sessions in arts and craft making for the elderly in the morning. They will be able to sell their crafts and create an income, and the centre will train youth in the afternoons to work with recyclables.

On weekends the museum will open its space to artists who will create their work while visitors walk among them and see their art in the making.

Ms Adams-Hart and Mr Barnett currently have their eye on using the Spring Tide building in Kalk Bay which has come onto the market alongside Kalk Bay Harbour.

Alternatively, they are looking to set up a shipping container if budget does not allow for purchasing Spring Tide.

“The building just came on the market and we tracked the owner down a few years back. He was 91 years then and determined to retire there. He passed on recently and the property came onto the market. We viewed the building, but the price was steeper than we thought. However, the concept is more important than the location,” said Ms Adams-Hart.

The pair are willing to collaborate with others on their plan and like fishermen casting a line, they want to see what ideas they pull in.

“We want to start it and give it back to the community. A lot of times people go into a community and tell them what they want, rather we want to create a platform for the community to express their ideas. We’ll have a survey and let the community choose what skills they would like offered.

“We are creating a platform and giving it direction, but ultimately it belongs to the community. Kalk Bay is influential to my work and I would like to give something back, but we need help, we can’t do
this all by ourselves,” said Mr Barnett.

If anyone would like to find out more about the museum plan and contribute their ideas or historical stories to the centre, contact Donald Barnett on 082 455 5806 or KalkBay.Heart@gmail.com for more information.