These vibrant bus stop murals reclaim overlooked public spaces
The passengers drag themselves off the bus. After a hard day’s work, it’s good to finally be home. But their shoulders slump at the sight in front of them – a dilapidated bus shelter mirrors their fatigue. To Bulela Lesea, his neighbours’ despondency is unlike their usual liveliness. “My community has spirit and beauty,” he says. “These things are not reflected in the buildings and streets.” Lesea realised he could brighten up their environment and raise people’s spirits. Using his skills as a painter, he is spreading colour throughout Wolwerivier.
The isolated area in the Western Cape, formed in 2015, houses people forcefully evicted from their homes. It’s far removed from the city centre, has poor access to services, and is situated in a barren location. Lesea has started creating vibrant murals and intricate portraits on bus stops in this community. “I think people should be surrounded by beauty while driving to work or coming back home,” he says. A self-taught artist, Lesea brings luminous characters to life with the streaks of his brush. Children watch as he paints, captivated by his deft movements and the transformation of their home.
“I want to paint the world into something we can be proud of,” Lesea says. The places we live in have a profound impact on our wellbeing. Lesea is determined to instil a sense of dignity and worth in his community. “Through my paintings, I hope the spaces will grow to reflect the beauty of the people,” he says. When his neighbours step off the bus after a long day, Lesea’s art now welcomes them home.