2023 Baker's Bay Artists' Retreat

Applications for the 2023 Baker's Bay Artists’ Retreat are now open.
Closing on 27 July, 5pm CAT

An Artists’ Retreat will be held from 7-24 September 2023, as part of the Art Can Transform project initiated by OMDis Town Transform Agency in Oranjemund, with sponsorship and support from Namdeb Diamond Corporation. This will be the third iteration of the project. The first retreat saw 6 artists living and working at the deserted mining town of Bogenfels in the Tsau //Khaeb National Park in 2021 and in 2022 the next retreat was held with 13 artists at Baker’s Bay also in the Tsau //Khaeb National Park. Artworks from both retreats were exhibited in Oranjemund and Windhoek. 

Artists who attend the 2023 retreat will be provided with dedicated working time and space in a unique and isolated part of Namibia that is largely still inaccessible to the public. This is a unique opportunity for artists to engage with the environment of this area as well as with their fellow artists, an experience which could enhance their creative practice.

Since the mining town of Oranjemund was opened to the public in 2017, the town and its stakeholders have been developing ways to diversify a local economy alongside mining for the town and its inhabitants. Art has been a proven means of economic revival, with public artworks offering creative and unique experiences for locals and tourists alike. Tourism, enriched by the arts, has been identified as a possible income generating sector for the town, particularly considering its proximity to the Tsau //Khaeb National Park. This area, formerly known as the Sperrgebiet, has incredible geographical, biological, social and historical significance. Through the medium of art complex themes and information can be highlighted, communicated and made accessible to non-expert audiences. This makes art a perfect conduit to spread the messages associated with the National Park, its unique history and the significant environmental importance of this area. 

This year’s retreat will focus on the theme ‘Creative Rehabilitation’. Artists will be encouraged to explore the potential role that creativity and art can play in the rehabilitation of the former mining area and what is left behind when mining stops. During the 2022 retreat many artists created artworks using recycled metals from an old dump near to Baker’s Bay, opening up the potential for this project to positively influence the natural environment through re-purposing and re-imagining waste, breathing life into redundant infrastructure and man-made landscapes. The creative potential of this retreat acts as an incubator in which artists can begin to explore the ways in which existing/abandoned infrastructure and other areas affected by mining in the park might be recycled, reimagined or repurposed.

What artists can expect:

This year there will be 11 contemporary Namibian and International artists at the 2023 Artists’ Retreat at Baker’s Bay in the National Park. Selected artists who attend the Retreat will:

  • be introduced to the area to ensure that they are aware of the sensitive environment, safety issues, and relevant rules and regulations. They will be guided through the geology and natural history of the area, historical aspects of the space, the need for conservation and the unique human footprint that has been left on this deserted landscape. 
  • be asked to use their specific style and medium to create a series of artworks which will then be exhibited for the Oranjemund public after the retreat. A repeat exhibition will be held in Windhoek to draw wider attention to the project and to Oranjemund. A catalogue (hard copy and digital) will be created to document the retreat and artworks.
  • requested to donate one work each from the retreat to the funders of the project, or alternatively leave a lasting artwork at Baker’s Bay. Artists whose chosen media does not lend itself to donation will instead offer a master class to interested Oranjemund residents.
  • will potentially be invited to submit proposals after the retreat for further projects that could benefit the mine, town or National Park, either through the creation of more artworks using recycled materials from the park or through the imaginative re-purposing of abandoned infrastructure or mine landscapes in the park.
Artists will be supplied with:
  • Transport to Oranjemund from Windhoek and back again
  • Accommodation for the duration of the trip
  • Food for the duration of the trip

Artists must:

  • Present a valid police clearance no older than 12 months old (this is required for the Restricted Area Permit to enter the mining licence). This police clearance takes approximately a week to obtain in Namibia, and up to 3 months in South Africa. A certified copy thereof as well as a certified copy of the successful applicant’s ID must be submitted by 10 August 2023
  • Be available for the full duration of the retreat
  • Bring their own art materials
  • Be willing to share a bathroom with another artist
  • Be ready to pitch in with cooking and maintaining a clean environment, all meals will be prepared communally on a rota system
  • Be aware that Baker’s Bay is uninhabited and extremely remotely located (160km from Oranjemund, at least 3 hours driving), in a rugged desert environment next to the ocean. There is no cellphone signal, contact with Oranjemund is only via a radio
  • Be prepared to donate an artwork from the retreat, or alternatively leave a lasting artwork at Baker’s Bay, or give a master class after the retreat if your work doesn’t lend itself to being donated
Applications must be submitted through this link.