Monthly Archives: December 2016

Seeking Africa Exhibition

Seeking Africa: Design/Art Across A Continent Exhibition

Seeking Africa: Design/Art Across A Continent

 

The Seeking Africa exhibition, at Themes and Variations on Westbourne Grove in London, is one of the first exhibitions in the UK to focus on the variety of contemporary design from Africa.  The exhibition has been cleverly curated to give a glimpse of what is happening in different countries via chosen artists.  Themes range from pollution and the effects on the environment, reflected in photography and furniture from recycled oil drums, to story telling through basket weaving.

 

The basket weaving drew my attention as two of the baskets are from a series of three Biography Baskets.  These Biography baskets are part of the Song of the Weaver project, created by three generations of weavers: grandmother, daughter and granddaughter from one family who work for social enterprise, Gone Rural, in Swaziland. Each of the baskets in the series captures the memories of the lives of  the weaver through grasses and objects found on their homesteads.

 

Seeking Africa Exhibition

Seeking Africa Exhibition

The basket above is by Siphiwe Mngometulu, the daughter of the trio, who is the head of her homestead.  Siphiwe left school after falling pregnant and began weaving to support her child.  Together Siphiwe and her husband had six more children building a life together at his homestead.  Then one day her husband sold all their cattle and left.  He did not return for four years.

Siphiwe had to leave her husband’s family homestead but with her income from Gone Rural she was able to start her life again, building a new house and buying animals  but she has yet to regain her herd of cattle.  This is her ultimate dream.  Her husband now visits a few times a year.   Her basket is a visual memoir of her life.  Woven from grasses and collected objects, there are memories embedded in every strand of the basket.  Like the bone, which signifies that Siphiwe is the backbone of her family.  The goat skull and metal disc are reminders of her husband as Siphiwe always slays a goat when he returns home and the disc symbolises her husband’s return by bicycle.  The numerous layers of grasses symbolise the years of Siphiwe’s life (some fertile and some dry).

 

Seeking Africa Exhibition

The basket above is by Bonakele Ngwenya, Siphiwe’s first-born daughter.  Like her mother she left school at 16 when she became pregnant.  She was sad to have to leave school but happy to have a daughter.  Bonakele learnt how to weave from her mother and joined Gone Rural to support her child.  Her basket is very different in style from her mother’s.   The use of pink symbolises her love for her daughter and the metal loops represent her husband’s unstable employment.  The depressed base is her sadness at having to leave school and the zig zag patterns on the top of the basket allude to the style of basket she normally weaves for Gone Rural and her prayer for more work in the future.

seeking africa exhibition

seeking africa exhibition

Another Gone Rural basket, from a different collection, woven from recycled fabric and plastic covered grasses and copper wire.

 

seeking

 

seeking africa exhibition

Also part of the Seeking Africa exhibition were two striking baskets by Beauty Ngxongo from Zululand.  Functional, beautiful and decorative, Zulu baskets are some of the most collectable in the world.  The ones above are tightly woven from ilala palm, so tightly woven that the they are watertight.  I particularly like the earthy mix of colours and striking patterns in these baskets.

 

The Seeking Africa exhibition runs until 16th December but hurry if you want to see everything as the exhibits are for sale and are selling fast. Learn more at Themes and Variations, 231 Westbourne Grove, London.

 

The background information on the Biography Baskets is from Gone Rural.  Find out more about social enterprise Gone Rural here and click here to see our selection of baskets from Gone Rural.

How To Create A Cosy Home This Christmas

Tips On Creating A Cosy Home

I’m typing this post wrapped in one of our cosy waffle throws to block out the blast of cold air coming through ancient wooden French doors and cursing myself for not ordering replacement wooden doors and windows earlier in the year.

As a sun-loving Leo I struggle with the cold, dark,winter months so I like to create a cosy home where I can hibernate until the mild weather arrives.  For me the key essentials are warmth, lighting, colour and wintry scents.  Take a look at the Pinterest visuals above for ideas.  To see the full board use the scroll bar on the right hand side.

Warmth

  •  A roaring wood fire or burner helps create a cosy feel but older homes can still be draughty so the trick is to layer the textiles in your home.  Add wool blankets and throws to sofas so  you can curl up under them.  Pile on the cushions so you sink into them
  • If you have wooden, tiled or laminate flooring, add some deep pile rugs and runners for warmth and softness underfoot
  • Layer your bedding by adding coverlets, blankets and kantha throws for extra warmth and texture.  Increase the number of pillows too for extra comfort.

Lighting

  •  When it’s dark outside add extra table lights inside to create pools of light
  • Add clusters of candles to create a warm glow.  Use metallic candle holders in brass, copper and silver to reflect the light
  • String fairy lights over mirrors and mantlepieces, loop them along walls or cascade them down windows to create a magical Christmassy feel.

Colour

  • Introduce some warmer colours in the form of throws, cushions, a tablecloth or rug.  Browns, russets, pinks, reds, oranges and some yellows will all create a warmer feel.

Scent

  • Scent your home with woody, spicy smells.  I like Diptyque’s Cannelle and Amber candles
  • I add to this with large bunches of eucalyptus which I use in pots, on the mantelpiece, in wreaths, on my dining table and for gift wrapping (I prefer natural decorations).
  • Finally, there’s nothing like a real pine Christmas tree to create a wonderful woody aroma.