Artist in Residency hosted by Greatmore Art Studios. Supported by Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y Las Artes (FONCA).

Cape Town, South Africa

Luyolo (Happiness), 2012 / Documentation excerpt /  Langa Township. Cape Town, South Africa

An abandoned beauty salon housed in a container on the outskirts of Cape Town, was renovated by the artist following the distinctive “township style”.  The color palette as well as the concept were thought considering the location, environment, services offered and inspired by the owner herself. The artist painted a self-portrait and kept the original beauty salon’s name: Luyolo which in Xhosa means happiness.

Once the renovation was completed, the container was moved by a crane truck to Greatmore's forecourt where, for the opening of the artists in residency exhibition, Ongezwa -stylist and owner of Luyolo - offered her services to the public.


The container was moved back to its original location in Langa Township where it remains to this day.

About the work


Mark O'Donovan

Director Greatmore Studios, 2012

"Alejandra's work was exceptional in that she presented a project which showed great potential for outreach to the poor communities in and around Cape Town. For the visiting artists exhibition Alejandra arranged to have an entire hairdressing salon (inside a shipping container which she had painted), transported to the Greatmore Studios site; and the public were invited to have their hair done and experience a hairdressing salon, township style.

Luyolo (Happiness), 2012 / Site specific intervention. Langa Township. Cape Town, South Africa

I am always looking for project which potentially can involve people who are disadvantaged in their circumstances - projects which help people to visualise a grander future for themselves; and Alejandra's project did this".

Luyolo at Greatmore Art Studios


Luyolo (Happiness), 2012 / Performance at Greatmore Art Studios. Langa Township. Cape Town, South Africa


Barber Shops & Beauty Salons, 2012


The photographic series Barber Shops & Beauty Salons belongs to the project’s archive. Carried out during the artist residency this series served not only as a record but also as an inspiration for what would later become the main project: Luyolo.


During the three months of the residency, I regularly walked around the so-called townships around Cape Town, documenting the peculiar Beauty Salons and Barber shops housed in “shaks” and containers. These very characteristic South African shops immediately caught my attention as they are far from being glamorous, yet they have a unique and charming style. I collected hundreds from images of these fascinating spaces and their people around Langa, Khayelitsha, Guguletu and Macassar, some of the ghettos situated in the outskirts of  Cape Town.