Nukain Mabuza Stone Garden in Umjindi Rural, Mpumalanga
Nukain Mabuza passed away in October 1981 and was buried in the Emjindini Cemetery in Barberton, but he left behind a legacy that attracts tourists from far and wide. Colourful painted rocks lie scattered among the Lowveld bush at Revolver Creek, close to Kaapmuiden and Louw’s Creek.
The Stone Garden of Nukain Mabuza is considered by experts in “outsider art” as one of only 44 global examples of environmentally based outsider art, another site in South Africa is the Owl House of Helen Martins in the Karoo.
He was born in Mozambique and clearly had a strong eye for colour and pattern. He lived alone and explained that he became bored with his dull surroundings and so began to paint the rocks around his home, spending most of his money on paint, choosing to rather starve than neglect his beautiful garden. Nukain’s called it his “Garden o Flowers” as he explained that if you stand on the crest of the mountain, keeping the stones aligned with the zebra painted boulder, the rocks will look like flowers tumbling from the sky.
Since the late 1970’s Nukain's art has been inspiring local and international artists alike and was in fact the inspiration of Athol Fugard’s play “The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek” which has shown in New York and Los Angeles. His Garden has been written about and photos of his art have been published and exhibited in Art Museums and Galleries. SABC television made a documentary on his work and he has even had a book on his work published.
Unfortunately since his death, the garden has succumbed to the environment and is not as striking as it once was, however the colourful stone garden is still worth a visit.
Things to do and see
- Painted Stone Garden: Colourful patterns, zebra patterns, African patterns
No admission fee is charged and some stones can be seen from the roadside.
Rainfall occurs mainly in the mid-summer months, with November, December and January seeing the highest levels.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 18˚C and 30˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 11˚C and 24˚C.
There are daily flights from Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town into the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport in Mombela (Nelspruit). Car rental companies are available for easy access to the surrounding areas. Road trips from Johannesburg on the N12 and N4 will take just over 4 hours.
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