RESEARCHER / WRITER / CREATIVE
“The very tactile quality of an object created by the human hand inspires me … its imperfections and its intimacy..
I admire the work of Axel Vervoordt and Nini Andrade Silva.
|Wabi Inspirations is one of the many books written by designer and antique collector, Axel Vervoordt. I visited the impressive Axel Vervoordt Gallery at a site known as Kanaal, a converted industrial distillery on the banks of the Albert Canal in Wijnegem, Belgium. The distillery has become a cultural and residential community.||
In-front of the Nini Andrade Silva Design Centre in Funchal. The focus of the Design Centre is on development, innovation and artistic expression. This iconic fortress, Nossa Senhora da Conceição was once the residence of João Gonçalves Zarco, the man who discovered Madeira.
During 1994, I established the Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation to provide training and create sustainable employment for previously disadvantaged or unemployed people in the remote Blouberg area of Limpopo province. For this purpose I founded and now direct the Mogalakwena Studio in rural Limpopo and specialises in the training of multiple skills – embroidery, bead work, knitting and stitching – and also present children’s art workshops. The sourcing of a variety of natural materials is encouraged and these are used for the weaving of baskets and mats, and to create artworks.
The Mogalakwena Studio is a creative haven, a melting pot of expertise and learning. This is where renowned South African designer, Haldane Martin, worked with me and where the Zulu Mama chair was developed, and also where designer Paulo Lenti's Afra chair was born and woven. I have had the privilege of working with many remarkable designers, artists, architects and crafters, each of whom has inspired me and energised my work at the Studio.
As director of the Foundation I consult on job creation and employment projects in South Africa. In this capacity I have also acted as curator for the Handmade sector at Design Indaba, as well as curator of Emerging Creatives.
Mogalakwena Gallery & Shop is situated in the old stables at Montebello Design Centre in Newlands, Cape Town. The stables were built during the 1800's and the timeless quality of traditional skills portrayed in the stone floors, large wooden doors, brass door handles and locks, and the incredible ironmongery, create the ideal setting to celebrate traditional skills. The Mogalakwena team and I sketch, paint, weave baskets and mats, hand embroider, stitch, knit, crochet and bead artworks and objects, turning simple everyday items, such as table linen, curtain drops and scatter cushions, into collector’s pieces. These unique objects, displayed in this timeless setting, are created to bring joy and inspiration to all who visit.
Hand embroidered textile art
Painting during a class with South African artist, Jill Trappler
My first book, CRAFT ART in SOUTH AFRICA, is a celebration of craft and was published in 2002 by Struik. A second book, CRAFT ART in SOUTH AFRICA - CREATIVE INTERSECTIONS, was launched at Design Indaba in March 2015 and showcased the work of many more talented craft artists. I continue to write on the subject of design and art and has written for Phaidon Publishers, Spier and various magazines.
During 2006, I founded the Mogalakwena Research Centre for African Ecology and Anthropology to facilitate research in the fields of ecology, anthropology and social entrepreneurship in Africa. My research documents contemporary oral culture in the remote Blouberg area of Limpopo. Scenes of daily life in the villages, trade & industry, governance, health & healing, education, customs, song & dance, food & recipes are drawn on cloth and then hand embroidered. These panels are stretched on frames or hand bound into artist’s books. The textile art and artist’s books are exhibited nationally and internationally.
With glass artist, Sue Meyer at the launch of my book during Design Indaba. Credit Katinka Bester.