Tag Archives: Africa

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.

Maid in Africa, Quirky, African Cushions

There’s a story behind all of the products featured in our launch collection and today I thought I would write about our fabulous, funky, hand printed and hand painted African cushions from Maid in Africa, which I discovered and fell in love with whilst on a wonderful road trip through Nambia seven years ago.

The design duo behind the range, Micha and Andrew Weir,  were inspired to create Maid in Africa in 2006 to generate extra work for Priscilla, a young mother who had been diagnosed HIV positive and had lost her housekeeping job.  As she became weaker she wanted to be productive and so combining their creative knowledge with their ability to screen print, Maid in Africa was born. Sadly Priscilla has since passed away but the company continues to employ out of work domestic workers.

Like all the products in the Maud interiors collection, the Maid in Africa cushions are handmade.  Each cushion, detailing exotic flora and fauna from southern African life and well known brands, like Get Rich and Lucky Strike, is hand printed in black onto white cotton and then individually hand painted so no two cushions are alike.   The cushions are backed with a mix of traditional African prints and come with a plump duck feather inner pad.

There are three different styles in the collection:

HeadgearO601

 

 

Headgear

In Africa there is a saying “What you cannot carry on your head you can most probably live without.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIMALG 45x45 (Duplicate)

 

 

Maidonna

Recently featured in Lancashire Life magazine: http://www.lancashirelife.co.uk/homes-gardens/interiors

Thanks guys!

 

 

 

 

 

NewMEDB60

 

Mermaid – our competition prize this month

We are giving away one of these fabulous Mermaid designs in dark blue.

See our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/maudinteriors for details on how you can enter but hurry as the competition ends on 2nd September 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our one-of-a-kind, African cushions, from Maid in Africa, are ideal for injecting some colour into a room or  sprucing up a tired sofa or chair.  Use them individually to create a focal point  or  mix and match them to create an eye-popping riot of colours and imagery.