creation of the world 1
creation of the world 2

No one is left alive who speaks the |Xam language, but our traditional stories, dating back thousands of years, have been preserved. Working from the Bushman Heritage Museum in Nieu Bethesda, a group of First People artists explore the ancient wisdom of our ancestors in contemporary images that are relevant to our lives today. Three giant tapestries tell stories of the stars, the wind, and the origin of death. A fourth explores the painful relationship between sun and moon. A fifth flows between images of seven of our great creation myths. And then there are the tapestries that tell the story of our lives in Nieu Bethesda now – how the wind blows, how we dance, how we sing, and how we are pursued by shadows of darkness.


The artists at the Museum have been working together for many years. They work collectively, drawing, working with textiles, making lino-prints. This exhibition gives a flavour of the two large galleries in the Bushman Heritage Museum that explore the mythology of the |Xam Bushmen in giant tapestries that have been exhibited at the Iziko National Gallery, in Europe and Australia, and at the British Museum in London.

The indigenous people of Southern Africa understood the connectedness of human beings to the natural world, and warned of the perils of trying to dominate the earth. Ancient creation stories from the |Xam Bushmen, told and interpreted by poet and psychoanalyst Jeni Couzyn, bring their wisdom into startling focus within the context of our current climate and ecological crisis. The book is illuminated throughout with lavish colour plates of giant narrative tapestries, made by living Bushmen, and on display at the Bushman Heritage Museum in Nieu Bethesda, South Africa.

Genre: Visual Art

Format: Tapestries and textiles

Duration: 8 – 31 July 2021

Sadly we are unable to welcome you to this exhibition in person. Instead, we invite you to enjoy the immersive online 3D exhibit with 360 degree captures of the pieces.


Current participants in the project are a group of men and women of Bushman descent, living in Nieu Bethesda, making art and running the museum.

Artistic Director: Jeni Couzyn

Lead Artist: Sandra Sweers
Artists: Gerald Mei, Yvonne Merrington, Felicity Tromp, Naasley Swiers, Esmerelda Tromp, Merlyn Davidson, Martin Lackay, Winston Titus, Nadia Williams, Anthony Merrington, Rosie Jacobs