The "Arch" lives on in Hermanus

Lucky Friday the artist stands in front of the Desmond Tutu mural in Hermanus.

Writer Taylum Meyer

After plenty of excitement and just over a week of plastering, priming and painting, graphic designer and artist Matthew Kearns (aka Lucky Friday) unveiled his latest project to the public – a six-metre wide mural of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Hermanus Waterfront.

Matthew, who is originally from New Zealand and now living in Hermanus, got the idea for the mural from a conversation he had a few weeks ago with local resident Lynn Hardbattle, who suggested painting the Archbishop on the bus stop shelters between Hermanus and Hawston.

A short while after completing the design for the bus stops, Matthew blew a tyre near Peregrine Farm Stall, where he was forced to stop, and ran into a group from the Volmoed Youth Leadership Training Programme (of which Tutu was the patron) while getting a much-needed cup of coffee. The group, led by Director Rev Edwin Arrison, was on their way back to Hermanus after visiting the Desmond Tutu exhibition in Cape Town. 

Matthew was given a flyer from the exhibition from one of the young men in the group and struck up a conversation with Rev Arrison, mentioning the bus stop design he had just completed of Tutu. The reverend immediately loved the idea and suggested that Matthew instead do a prominent mural of the Archbishop in the Hermanus CBD. Feeling inspired, Matthew approached the Desmond Tutu Foundation with the design, which was welcomed and approved by the board.

The Desmond Tutu design that was approved by the IP Trust

Matthew quickly set about finding a prominent wall to paint in Hermanus, as well as sponsors for paint, and someone to assist him with the piece. In just a few days, everything came together: Hermanus Waterfront offered him a space, sponsors came forward for paint, and Rev Arrison introduced him to local artist Lutho Nyatela – who turned out to be the same young man who had given him the flyer at Peregrine Farm Stall!

Matthew and Lutho began sketching out the design after priming the wall on 13 March. During the five days they were painting, Matthew received lots of support from excited passersby, who stopped to take photos. By 18 March, the last details were completed and 'The Arch' became a permanent feature of the Hermanus landscape.  

Lucky Friday using a projector to draw the face. Using technology at its best.

Lutho and Lucky Friday working hard on the mural.

The unveiling of the Desmond Tutu mural on 21 March (which was aptly also Human Rights Day) was well attended by invitees and members of the public.

Drummers from the Volmoed Youth Leadership Training Programme kicked off the proceedings with some lively music before Rev Arrison gathered everyone around and Matthew addressed the crowd and introduced Lutho.

Rev Arrison then welcomed Rev Jerry Gelant of St Peter's Church who led everyone in prayer and blessed the mural. Prof John de Gruchy, who was a friend of Tutu, also came forward to say a few words before Rev Wilma Jakobsen of the Volmoed Trust ended the programme with words of thanks.

Once the formalities were over, everyone posed for photos in front of the mural, which is located in the alley next to Pear Tree. In the piece, Tutu's face is painted alongside one of his well-known sayings: "If you want peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies." 

Still good advice to be heeded in this day and age. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah moved to Hermanus in 2017 to properly retire from public life. In 2021, at the age of 90, he passed away peacefully in Cape Town. Thanks to Matthew's mural, Tutu will continue to live on in Hermanus.

The last piece to be added to the mural later this week will be an A0 poster giving a brief description of Tutu’s life as well as smaller posters giving a brief description of the two artists who worked on the mural (Matthew and Lutho).

Photos taken with the mural can be shared on Facebook to the group 'Desmond Tutu Mural Hermanus'. Matthew is also selling limited edition prints of the mural design and a portion of each sale will go to the Volmoed Church (You can buy the prints online at

Matthew would like to thank Wilkoo Marketing and Prominent Paints for the paint and equipment, Hermanus Waterfront for the space for the mural, La Pentola for the daily lunches, Lutho Nyatela and Charmé Southey for their assistance painting the mural, Titanium Photography and Suhail Gierdien for the photographs documenting the process of the mural, and Charme ?? for the videos. 

PHOTOS: Titanium Photography 

Instagram and Facebook: @titaniumphotographyanddesign