Locals Only

Working Class and Volcom teamed up to produce Locals Only, an art exhibit showcasing talents from the 011, 021 and 031. Luke Smith reviews the opening night of the Durban exhibit.

There was something about an exhibition called “Locals Only”  put on by Working Class that just tugged at my Bluff origins. It conjured up youthful memories of  the storm pipe at Garvies, the tanned and sun bleached surfers at Ansteys (who both frightened and fascinated me), the strange area code tribalism that existed throughout high school, and a song about being ‘rough and tough’ and smoking ‘da good stuff’ or some shit. Here, finally, was an exhibition for the blue collar, for manual labour and oil stained overalls. For the endearingly crass and loud. For beer drinking and fish and chips. No suits or single malts here. I pressed ‘attending’ with fresh vigor and promptly hopped off my computer and started doing some push-ups.

I was (and still am) incredibly upset at the lack of a wall covered in misspellings of ‘fuck’ and ‘vagina’

I could smell the white collar fear as I strolled down Florida Road, a picaresque hero invading the rich mans world. While others parted with their cash the door lady, aware of my quest, simply nodded me in, thrusting a  folded parchment into my hands. A map? A layout of the world before me? I calmly sauntered towards the bar. Surely he too knew my mission at hand. R18 later and with a snap back into reality, I sipped my beer gingerly. Was the barman an agent of ‘the man’? I couldn’t be certain but the tell of his cloth lead me to believe so. Sneaky faux hawk bastard.


Weird venue for a blue collar art invasion, I thought. Upstairs? Upper class stairs? Stairway to the upper class?! What the fuck. I’m no David Icke or Giorgio A. Tsoukalos but there was definitely something fishy going on. I sat back, watching the crowd in front of me. It was a mixed bunch, a healthy union across age, race and style. Of those three, the older element did strike me as a touch out of place, but a welcome addition. Too often exhibitions like this (and revolutions for that matter) are left solely to the youth, and the youth are, well, at times, quite useless. That uselessness is clearest when it comes to money parting from wallet. Apparently there were some complaints on the internet about the entrance fee? While I didn’t stress about it (see 200 odd words back) it was nice to see the organizers realizing the plight of the poor student class. I can just imagine the eruption of euphoria and rejoice at the realization that they could now buy 4 beers instead of 3. Brings a tear to my eye. Onwards and upwards my young revolutionaries.


Draining the last drops of beer, I made my way to the night’s art. Rounding a corner and turning into the cramped corridor where the work was being displayed, my Lazarillion charade was emphatically put to rest. I was (and still am) incredibly upset at the lack of a wall covered in misspellings of ‘fuck’ and ‘vagina’, or graffiti about Dale’s mom having a fantastic pair of, well, you know, but the work at hand made up for it, especially that of the Durban contingent’s. Whether it was intentional or not, I felt the yellow and purple colour scheme was inspired. If you could paint a flag for Durban right now, yellow and purple would be the perfect colours. A sense of the gaudy past partnered with its optimistic future. The work displayed by its chosen sons (and daughter) wasn’t bad either. I found Christian Mungai, Skullboy and Matt Kay’s strong. Particularly Matt’s. It’s a strange thing to watch something grow from good to great. From bic-pen complexities to simplified and poignant, his work has always had a power to it, it’s just now that with fewer strokes and a concentration on message it has impact. Rumour is he’s making his way to bigger, greener and fruit-nicknamed pastures, and as much as it’s a loss for our city, it’s a gain for him. Matt is an export we should be incredibly proud of.


I realize that a lot of the ‘review’ section of this has been tooting the horn of Durban (I mean, why on earth would DIY do that?) so in an effort to quell intercity rivalries, I can honestly say there wasn’t a disappointing piece in the entire exhibition. The ‘names’ delivered and the small guys stood up to be counted. Put a gun to my head and I’d splutter that Nicholas Christowiz’s ‘This City Is My Church’ was a little banal and cold, while Gerhard Human’s ‘Lumberjack’ was a case of cool subject, pretty lines, great layout ,and not much else, but neither of those were bad by any stretch of the imagination. I’m sure scores of people loved them. And that speaks volumes about the level of work being produced by a certain sect of illustrators, designers and artists in our country. Which, in a way, is what struck me as odd about the night. While thankfully my rapscallion dreams of “BLUFF POWA” hadn’t been realised, there is still a lot in a name, intentional or not. I found it strange for something called ‘Locals Only’ that the majority of work was produced by white, English or Afrikaans speaking males. Is that an argument for another place and another time? Probably, but hey, it did interest me.


All photos courtesy of Tyrone Bradley and Working Class

14 Responses to “Locals Only”
  1. saynotocapitals says:

    Another great review Luke. And the parting shot? Definitely something worthy of discussion.

  2. MAt says:

    Fucking ace!
    Great night great review.
    Luke mate – Writing SKILLZ.

    yeah and that parting shot is also class!

  3. Jeff Goldblum says:

    This is an absolutely great article.

  4. Martin Barrios says:


    So right. Luke poured so much hard work into this, he deserves more good comments.

  5. megz says:

    I loved reading this, well done lukas

  6. Mark says:

    So fucking well written!

  7. pissingblood says:

    Rough and Tough! Fuck I hate that shit, but it would have been weirdly nostalgic to see it in an exhibition, I agree. Read it three times now. More of this, lads.

  8. Frankurl says:

    Great article mate.

  9. allytangclan says:

    dude. amazing.

  10. Matt S says:

    I smiled, I laughed, I was informed. A great read.

  11. Ty says:

    Brilliant piece.

  12. Senz says:

    lots of vega love going around here!

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