In the 1960s and 1970s, Nukain Mabuza was a farm labourer on the farm Esperado, at Revolver Creek (near the border with Swaziland). But he was also an artist who spent all his free time creating an extraordinary garden of painted rocks, at the base of a granite koppie (small hill) near the main road. Nukain Mabuza began by painting his two huts and their furnishings. He carried on from there, clearing the veld vegetation and outlining a triangular shape as the site of his rock installation. He created paths and special places using smaller rocks. Then, for the next fifteen years, until he left the site in about 1980, he painted and re-painted the rocks in their formations. All the large boulders within the zone were painted with distinctive stripes, dots, squares, and squares within squares. Important boulders near the lower part were singled out as the ‘throne’ and the ‘altar’, where he would sit. At first he used only black, yellow and white. But in 1976, after he received a donation of paints from a paint salesman who was impressed by his site, he expanded his colours to include green, blue and gold.
Today this garden is considered one of only 44 environmental works in the world identified as authentic examples of “Outsider Art”. Only two of these are found in South Africa, making Mabuza’s garden a national treasure. The colours have eventually faded, and despite a few attempts to restore the site, Mabuza’s garden is slowly disappearing. But this is true for most land art installations; by their very nature, they are temporary, subject to weather and wear: they are not required to last forever.