The creative components of the conference will be woven into the program and are intended to enliven and expand conversations. These will include poetry, photography, fine art, dance and installation work. There will also be a curated group ‘Insecthibition’  themed around the importance of insects in agriculture.

Maya Marshak – Art programme curator

Maya Marshak is a food systems researcher and artist. Her work is interested in ‘multispecies’ relationships between humans, organisms and environments and how these have changed over entangled social, political, ecological histories. Beginning her studies in fine art in 2003, Maya then switched to environmental science focussing on food systems. She has always looked for overlaps between her interest in science and art, and is currently completing and interdisciplinary PhD which has allowed her to bring these together in one project. This project looks at the impacts of GMO’s and associated technologies on agro-ecological knowledge on farms and in research and development. Maya sees insects as story tellers, looking for places where insect and human lives intersect can teach us a great deal about our relationships on this planet.

Themba Mkhangeli Artist

Themba was born and grew up in Julukuqu , Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. He is currently based in Cape Town in Nyanga East. He is a ballpoint pen artist who focuses mostly on the human form, particularly portraits. He often incorporates insects in his portraits and is interested in their importance in the world. Themba dreams of owning his own art studio and gallery so that he can make his own work and be a mentor to young people, particularly from the poorer black communities. He believes acquiring artistic knowledge and skills can provide a positive attitude and confidence and a much needed source of income. he believes in the importance of doing what you love.

Sujay Sanan – Visual artist

I am Sujay Swadi Sanan. I grew up in the Himalayas and now live in Cape Town with my partner and son. I have been fascinated by the natural world for as long as I can remember. Drawing has been a way for me to show appreciation for the living planet.

I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design from the National Institute of Design (Ahmedabad) India and thereafter co founded Quick Brown Fox. I have always incorporated illustration into my commercial work and that gradually led me to seek my own voice. I began working on my first body of work as an artist after moving to South Africa in 2013. Since then I have gravitated to the world of painting and now I work almost exclusively on my art.

Xolisa Bangani – Poet

Xolisa Bangani also known as Treenity grew up in the township of Site C, khayelitsha. He is an artist who uses his creativity to showcase a positive side of his community. He is a writer, a performer, event organiser and a founder of a social environmental project called Ikhaya garden which focuses on giving people access to food. He is passionate about poetry, gardening and likes to be involved in any initiative that seeks to create sustainable livelihoods.

Vanessa Black Researcher, photographer

Vanessa Black is a Durban-based artivist using watercolour, oils, ink, and mixed media in paintings and illustrations that explore environmental justice and feminist themes. She also creates visual how-to information materials.  Her photography draws attention to the often-unnoticed beauty in everyday life and documents protest in the environmental justice movement.

Zayaan Khan Art programme curator

Zayaan Khan is from Cape Town and works in understanding nuances within food systems by navigating food from an interdisciplinary perspective. Currently she is interested in Food through the lens of Art, specifically to find ways to share stories, both of struggle and solution.

Zayaan is currently completing a Masters within the Environmental Humanities at the University of Cape Town, her research entitled, “From seed-as-object to seed-as-relation”.

Diana Ocholla – Dancer / Choreographer

Dancing is Diana’s passion. She started modern dancing when she was 9 years old and excelled in it while developing an addiction to performance. After high school she continued to pursue her love of movement through Capoeira, Ballroom and Latin and Mixed Martial Arts. Alongside a full-time job Diana makes sure dancing is a part of her life by teaching part time, performing,  choreographing and trying new styles of dance. Diana feels that movement keeps you vibrant mentally, physically and emotionally and which is why she will always continue moving, doing, grooving.

Cara Stacey Musician and soundscape artist

Cara Stacey is a musician, composer and researcher.  Cara holds a doctorate in African music. She is a pianist and plays plays southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhweyane).  She has two albums,’Things that grow’ featuring Shabaka Hutchings, Seb Rochford, Ruth Goller, and Crewdson and ‘Ceder’ with Peruvian flutist and composer Camilo Ángeles. Cara is involved in a number of collaborative projects, the project Pergola with percussionist and drummer Sarathy Korwar, the Cape Town-based Shh..Art Ensemble, and Inclement Quartet.


Listening to existing experience and amplifying local knowledge helps build resilience for an equitable food future.

Medium: Photographic Exhibit


• Gwendolyn Meyer: Photographer

• Stefanie Swanepoel: Project Manager

• Natalie Nolte: Design Concept

Client: EATegrity

This exhibit of six images and text illustrates a way of amplifying local knowledge. It is based on a grassroots approach of listening coupled with aesthetic presentation techniques.

The images and interviews were captured at the Cape Town workshop on the proposed amendments to the South African Seed Bill in 2017. They were designed with texts and these were shared through social networks. This visual strategy positions farmers as expert interview subjects and broadcasts their local knowledge within their own network. This may contribute to strengthening the perceived value of local knowledge and thus foster the knowledge resilience of a network.


Gwendolyn Meyer: @likethelemon

Gwendolyn Meyer is an exhibiting artist working in photography, on paper, and facilitating participatory knowledge creation processes.

Stefanie Swanepoel:

Stefanie Swanepoel is an accomplished writer, researcher and lecturer with a focus on sustainable and regenerative systems

Natalie Nolte:

Natalie has experience working in media and how media facets can be pulled together to create material that is both engaging and has effective messaging.

Xola Keswa-Dlamini Green Ranger

Xola Keswa-Dlamini is always full of ideas about how we should be using the abundant resources that we have to create beautiful gardens full of food.

He began a love of farming at his grandmother’s garden in Ixopo. Keswa-Dlamini grew up in Pietermaritzburg and lived a lot with his Gogo (granny) and he watched as his grandmother planted and harvested food for the family in their small rural garden.

He recalls: “She always used to tell me I could be like my grandfather – who had made a successful life for his family, growing food. I loved being outdoors in nature, I was at my happiest in the garden. The classroom was not where I learnt things. I preferred to explore and discover things to do with food and plants.

This curiosity led him to become a certified permaculture consultant based in the Midlands. He advises people who want to become more self-sufficient, growing their own food in their gardens. The whole organic movement and the growing interest in sustainable living has offered him a niche market.

Words taken from:

Siphokazi Jonas Poet

Siphokazi Jonas holds a Masters degree in English Literature as well as an undergraduate degree in Drama and English. As writer and performer, she has produced four one-woman poetry shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Jonas has been a featured act at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country. She has also performed alongside renowned musicians including, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, and Dizu Plaatjies. Jonas made history in 2016 as the first African poet ever to perform at Rhetoric in Los Angeles, California. In 2016, she was the runner up for the Sol Plaatje European Union Award.

Siphokazi is a storyteller and ordinary lives fuel her work in poetry and in the theatre. Her experience of growing up in Komani, in the Eastern Cape, during the transition years of South Africa’s democracy, has an on-going influence on the kinds of stories which she tells. Her work engages questions of faith, identity, gender-based violence, cultural and linguistic alienation, black women in rural spaces, and the politics of the everyday.

Amy Rusch Interdisciplinary maker

Amy Rusch is an interdisciplinary maker, teacher and artist. She has a background in Production Design focusing on practical processes of making and specifically close observation of fine detail. This has allowed her to work in a number of spheres, including film, television and theatre as well as on freelance projects and commissioned pieces with industrial designers, architects, archaeologists and boat builders.

For the past 7 years Amy has been exploring waste plastic bags as a medium for making, questioning our relationship with the material and our natural environment. These pieces take form through experimental practices of repetitive cutting, stitching, heating and binding, moving between slow and meticulous rhythmic motions and faster interventions with tools and machines – an interplay between concealing and revealing the material. There is a hope, starting with the belief in potential, that possibilities can be accessed and artwork can make change possible.

Neil Rusch – research associate at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Simon Kohler –  music producer and sound artist.

Neil Rusch and Simon Kohler have collaborated to  exhibit an installation titled “Sounds from the Agave Hive” that celebrates pollinators and wild bee ecology.

Neil Rusch is a research associate at the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. His study interests are oral tradition, cultural heritage and archaeology. He is a member of ATEM (Archaeological TransfrontiEr Music), a research group that is studying archaeoacoustics and music in pre-history.

Simon Kohler is a music producer and sound artist. He is the co-founder of music production company Field, a member of Fly on the Wall Productions and an ex-Putterite. He works with sound for film, theatre and the arts. Works include; musical director for Handspring Puppet Company’s “Olifant Land”, film score for award winning documentary “The African Cypher” and participant artist in group show “Calibrating Wonder”. Current projects include; Silvan and Kalata. He dedicates his time to exploring the natural force that is sound.

Ekse Lens Educational project

Ekse Lens is a social and educational project aiming at empowering talented youth from the townships through the visual arts.

Ekse Lens’s primary objective is to shape the visual storytellers of tomorrow. With a Network of local and international photographers and filmmakers, we are opening a school, teaching photography and videography in Khayelitsha.

See More:


‘Insecthibition’ will be a buzzing space dedicated to art and discussion about the importance of insects in agriculture and beyond. This space will be open to the public and does not require conference registration.

                     Discussion Panel: INSECT INTERSECTIONS – Threat or Threatened? 4pm Wednesday 30 January

Exhibition opening: Wednesday the 30 January 6pm

Insects are vital to life on earth and essential for agriculture. As an ancient life form, insects continue to evolve and adapt at rapid rates, providing many lessons in survival.

As industrial agriculture has expanded across the globe, insects have increasingly been treated in a binary fashion, either labeled as ‘pests’ needing to be eradicated or viewed as ‘beneficial insects’ that can be put to work. This binary shapes attitudes towards insects, informing the way we engage with them. Chemical industries have capitalized on ‘pest control solutions’ seen as an essential part of producing enough food for rapidly growing global populations. These methods of farming have contributed to habitat destruction and impacted complex ecological relationships. While some insect populations have come to pose significant threats to yields, many have become extinct while others face extinction.

Insect plagues are part of our collective memory, however this was not the norm in pre-industrial agriculture. These events were seen as portents often carrying messages for the human world.  Recent studies have revealed drastic drops in insect populations over the past two decades. At this point in time it is the mass extinction of insects that begs us to question our relationships with them and wider ecosystems.

This exhibition focuses on the importance and wonder of insects. It brings together people who spend time getting to know insects, from artists to farmers and entomologists. It celebrates these tiny and enormously important beings and draws attention to the need to bring them into the conversation about food and life on this planet.