While speaking to Peter Clarke, world-renowned artist from Ocean View, we discussed the inspiration for his paintings Coming from the Creche and Waar is julle nou?and this led to a discussion of Ocean View and the forced removals brought about by the Group Areas Act.
The former painting was executed in 1958 in Simon’s Town when he would watch a mother and a granny walking down the road to fetch their children from the crèche. The latter painting is a tribute to the shopkeepers in Simon’s Town, many of whom were forced to relocate to other parts of Cape Town, while those who remained lost a great number of their customers.
The Group Areas Act of 1950 split the community of Simon’s Town when those classified as “non-white” were forcibly removed to areas such as Rylands, Grassy Park, Athlone, Retreat, Steenberg and the new town of Ocean View where they had to adjust to new circumstances and start their lives all over again.
Says Peter of this shameful epoch of South African history: “The fabric of our society was torn to shreds. It takes a life-time – a number of lifetimes, considering the different generations – to weave such a fabric. Then suddenly there is discontinuity. One feels as if one’s history has been wiped out.”
I came to Ocean View in 1973. People were moved from Simon’s Town as their new homes were completed. Although Ocean View has a wonderful setting, at first people were resentful of being put in the wilderness, especially having come from the history rich Simon’s Town.
At first there were different factions here, which is only to be expected. People from different areas were dumped together. They could not take out their agonies on the authorities so they took them out on each other. But eventually, as people got to know their neighbours, the sense of separateness dissipated and a sense of community grew.
The population of Ocean View has grown tremendously with marriages bringing in new faces, so it is no longer possible to know everyone.
People of surrounding communities are scared to come to Ocean View – the town conjuring up images of drugs and gangsterism. But drugs are not peculiar to Ocean View. Towns all over are struggling with the scourge. People have no need to fear coming here. The people are as friendly and as helpful as anywhere else.”
Peter Clarke has written about Ocean View in his book Plain Furniture.
For an interview with Peter Clarke, artist and writer, see
For an interview with prominent protest poet and activist Gladys Thomas of Ocean View (and a friend of Peter’s) see
The Heritage Museum, Simon’s Town: