The construction of a retreat to accommodate approximately 50 artists in a park like setting , where they could relax and be inspired was the dream behind the construction of the Hamburg artist retreat.


Sod-turning for the Hamburg Artists’ Retreat took place on 30 August 2010. Construction started the following month, employing some 40 local Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers on the site at any given time. This led to workers being trained in a number of focus areas, including manhole construction, plumbing, carpentry and brick laying. 

Through a process of community and municipal engagement, the retreat was branded and a new name that reflects its purpose and location: Emthonjeni, which means spring or well, a place of sweet water. 



EMTHONJENI ARTS is a Section 21 company with a Board combining local, provincial, national and international expertise:                   


The Board have adopted a revised statement of the Vision, Mission and Aims of the Project:



EMTHONJENI ARTS' world class arts and cultural programmes- in its buildings, in the local community and beyond - will be an integral part of the social and economic regeneration of Hamburg Town Centre and its surrounding areas



To create a unique and celebrated space in South Africa's arts landscape and use it as a catalyst for economic growth and social and cultural development




to build, maintain, manage and operate an Artists' Residency of international standard within the Town of Hamburg

to offer artists from the locality, Province, South Africa, Africa and beyond the opportunity to be 'in residence'

to work with the communities of the Ixesi river to offer opportunities for creative cultural engagement for resident artists

to promote the development of the cultural and creative industries in Amathole, maximising their contribution to the economy;

to participate in coordinating frameworks for community development and the growth of local businesses

to work to stimulate cultural tourism by programming and by assisting with the marketing of Hamburg, the river valley and Amathole.