If These Walls Could Talk: Mural Painting

Mural paintings inspired by the stories of children and young people in The Lawrence House, South Africa

In collaboration with The Lawrence House
Inspired by the stories of children and young people in The Lawrence House, South Africa.

This participatory storytelling and mural development event incorporates the stories and expressions of children and young people living in the Lawrence House, South Africa.

Artists held a storytelling and visualisation workshop with 15-20 young people to develop the mural concept and paint this on the premises of the House. The storytelling workshop focused on children’s place in society and representation of their rights in a public domain. A separate workshop was held, where children had the opportunity to use acrylic paints and canvas to present their own stories, however they choose.

The stories that emerged were translated into a mural, painted by a creative collective. You can now view the filmed content documenting this process below, accompanied by a time-lapse video.


The Process - from workshop to mural

A note from the creatives:

If These Walls Could Talk: Together Everyone Achieves More

This mural tries to fold together ideas on how adults see children and young people, how children and young people see themselves, and how they would like to be seen by the world.

Adults often think of young people as passive recipients of ‘adult culture’ or passive not-yet-adults – as can be seen in the far right of the mural in which a young girl is playing with figurines.

In actuality, young people are fighting these social constructions imposed upon them by others, fighting for their voices to be heard and developing through their own experiences and growth, as can be seen in the remainder of the mural. The mural attempts to highlight the battles and positionality that children and young people face.


Mural Time-lapse - from start to finish

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The Lawrence House is a child and youth care centre registered to accommodate up to 25 children and youth who have been found in need of care. Ever since its inception, The Lawrence House has dedicated its programmes and interventions to separated refugee children and unaccompanied foreign minors. The Lawrence House strongly believes that children and young people with migratory experiences who have been placed in alternative care have particular care and developmental needs, which can only be addressed successfully within a framework of understanding migration, integration in the South African context, and trauma. The Lawrence House also has a comprehensive approach to the young person which means to analyse aspects of the legal stay in the country as well as explore family reunification on a broader spectrum, not just locally but to actively work towards international reunification where deemed in the best interest of the child.


Nabeel Petersen considers himself to be a mixed martian (or other interplanetary) artist, of sorts, passionate about the fertile spaces between people, disciplines, places, spaces, approaches, expression and life/nature. Unschooled in the participatory arts, research and an insatiable explorer of finding middle ground between spaces and people, he is a passionate adventurer in Space and developing inclusive collaborations and co-designed/participatory processes to challenge traditional research-engagement structures and programmes. He is the Director of Interfer, a company focused on collaborations, storytelling, participation, research and the arts, and the co-founder of the NPO the Pivot Collective, focused on egalitarian collaborations, knowledge translation and research decolonization.

April Sing is a qualified graphic designer, illustrator and muralist based in Cape Town. She is particularly interested in the political and health potentials of public murals to stimulate dialogue and ignite collaborations.

Kauthar Drama, AKA Eleganza Visual Investors, is a film-maker, photographer and animator. Kauthar enjoys using photography and video to visually present people’s stories.

Jack De Jong is a skilled multi-method artist passionate about inclusivity in arts and transformation. Jack is skilled at public murals, fine art, stencilling, teaching and wheat paste. In his spare time, Jack is actively involved in teaching young people various arts methods. He often uses painting as a tool to celebrate social victories or to challenge social issues and injustice.

Adilah Petersen is a Registered Dietitian mastering in Public Health. She is an empathetic, free loving spirit with a passion for change, whether it be a change in the world or a change within an individual. In a world of worriers, she hopes to be a warrior and build an army strong enough to overcome the walls that the world has built to prevent us all from achieving our true potential.

Mohamed Hassan, also known as FØK, is a cartoon and animation fanatic, and introspective time waster. He uses a combination of different mediums and processes to visually communicate emotion, or the lack thereof in the metaphoric post-apocalyptic world that we live in today. He enjoys and is passionate about touching on ideas of existence and purpose, and communicating these ideas through bold lines, hyper detailed backgrounds and apathetic characters.



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