Pan-African craft on display

24 June 2010

Cutting-edge craftwork is on display at the Pan African Craft Exhibition in Johannesburg, where convention and stereotypes are being challenged as craft blurs with fashion and decor.

The Pan African Craft Exhibition (Pace) opened at the Gauteng Craft and Design Centre on Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton on 21 June and runs until 31 July.

Curators Adam Levin and Andile Magengelele have scoured the African continent in search of unusual new pieces that base their identity less on ethnicity and more on shape, texture or individual creativity.

The exhibition is supported by the City of Johannesburg, Gauteng provincial government, Gauteng Craft and Design Centre and the national Department of Arts and Culture. Highlights include Ronel Jordaan’s new felt chair, Kpando Pottery’s earthy forms from Ghana and Malian master dyer Aboubakar Fofana, who has created a unique indigo masterpiece.

Exhibitors include:

Kente Digital: Ghana’s master Kente cloth weaver, Nana Kwaku Duah II, mixes technology and tradition, working on a computer to create his new designs while handweaving each square on a double-heddle loom and then stitching them together.

Tekura: Tekura Designs has turned export-oriented contemporary African furniture into a sustainable enterprise. The minimalism and modernity of the pieces earned praise at the International Contemporary Furniture Faire in New York and won the 2008 Africa SMME Award in the trade sector.

Aboubakar Fofana: Mali’s pre-eminent textile artist fuses ancient indigo dying techniques with Japanese shibori techniques of wrapping, tying and folding the cloth, which he studied in Kyoto, in Japan.

World’s biggest necklace: young Nigerian artist Okechuku creates immense jewellery pieces from bronze, wood, beads and found objects. The piece being exhibited, GIANT takes jewellery to an absurd scale, rendering it unwearable and playing on the futility of excessive adornment.

The Lovers Drum: djembe drums are ubiquitous in West Africa. This Lovers Drum has been inscribed with a love letter, in a colloquial mixture of Twe, English and pidgin. It reads: “You are as sweet to me as toffee. I beg. I love you more than Harmattan pawpaw.”

Aida Duplessis: Aida Duplessis’ studio in Mali has pioneered the use of scented vetiver root in African soft furnishings. Her understated design ethic highlights the organic tone and texture of her materials.

Seringa: working chiefly in Kenya, Virginia Greenwell uses traditional Masai symbols and beadwork, along with Nigerian sacks or Kuba cloth from Democratic Republic of Congo, to create a chic, contemporary range of luggage and accessories.

Pace presents a bold new vision for a continent that is as contemporary as it is African. It challenges perceptions of African craft and design to witness a continent on the cutting edge, where traditional meets contemporary.

The exhibition is open from Monday to Friday, from 09:00 to 18:00; on Saturday from 09:00 16:00; and on Sunday from 09:00 to 13:00. Entrance is free.

The Craft and Design Centre is also the dedicated hub of the Gauteng Gateway 2010 International Media Centre for the duration of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Source: City of Johannesburg