Colour has great power to transform energy, to affect moods and create change. It speaks to us in different ways, just as art or music or a fine meal does. It is in every corner of Africa, in the petals of flowers and feathers of birds, in the homes of our people and around our bodies.
To harness the power of colour, in our intimate hideaway on the Zambezi, we have created a shape-shifting Wall of Life behind the swimming pool at River Lodge. A wall of colours and patterns that spread across the rest of the lodge, behind the bar, over the cushions… and hopefully, into your hearts.
To tell you more about it, we sat down with Royal Chundu mamma, GM and owner, Tina Aponte, and the artist commissioned for this design, Paul Engelbrecht. Discover more below.
“We have created an ever-changing wall and three or four times a year we will change it up, repaint with new designs by a different artist, to showcase more variety and keep things exciting, like our river. Like Africa. It is a moving art piece and has to evolve. It is a departure from colonial Africa and an embracing of modern Africa, its colours and vibrance. The wall is who we are as an identity at Royal Chundu. It brings people together to create it, look at it, interpret it and enjoy it. It ignites our family spirit.” – Tina Aponte
Step into the Mind of our Artist, Paul Engelbrecht
“Inspiration is everywhere just as there is art is in everything… gardening is art, laying a table is art, with its honouring and sharing of a meal, tea is an art, with its combination of stillness and celebration, meditation is an art. I get inspiration from shows at the theatre, nature, travels, seeing artists with depth, artists at work, that give you goosebumps. There is also so much to draw on for inspiration at Royal Chundu – the trees, the river, the birds, the fish, all the animals, the people, the dining, the peace and the excitement.”
“I just loved working in Zambia and at Royal Chundu on the Zambezi. It takes time to adjust to the space and the heat of working outdoors, but you know that you must just start early in the morning, when it’s cool and you feel fresh, and then slow into the afternoon, take a swim and return to the work in the cooler late afternoon. You have to adjust to African time and the Zambezi environment.”
“On the previous wall we created at Royal Chundu, four years ago, I worked with Victor and Nyami. It was a beautiful connection over art, sharing ideas and tasks, and a great way to pass on lessons. The lodge itself is its own little community and it is always wonderful to be a part of that.”
“I worked solo on this wall but it was interesting having the team at the lodge offering their readings of the patterns, telling me what they saw in the images – shields, for instance, whereas for me the process was more organic, not intending to look like anything in particular, more trying to capture the spirit of modern Africa, with the bright colours, not toning it down. We wanted to create something stylistically amazing and something you don’t expect to see on the Zambezi. But there was no set design. In fact every shape is different, no two are alike. I used masking tape and six colours only – magenta, emerald green, acid yellow, lime green, blue and gold. I played with positives and negatives, and the result is something tribal but modern, bold, geometric.”
“People will always try to read something into art even if the artist didn’t intend it. But that’s the beauty of it, it gets people engaged and thinking and inspired. Which is how the Zambezi and Zambia make you feel as a traveller.”
“I’m not a master, I’m a student. Always. I studied graphic design many years ago and now I like to use any medium to express my art. To me art should scream, especially in Africa. It wants to get out there. There are no rules in art. Art should try to break down boundaries. I just harness the momentum and I don’t limit myself to a style.”
“We bought all our paint in Livingstone and a little gold paint from Cape Town. You know, in Livingstone everything is painted – all the signs. There is art everywhere in the town.”