South African craftwork hits New York

New York-based retailer ABC Home is hosting a five-week exhibition featuring 29 life-sized dolls dressed in southern African traditional garments, with the intention of illuminating the art, spirit and vision of Africa during the 2008 holiday season.

The move follows a July 2008 trip by members from Design South Africa and the South African Consulate General, the purpose of which was to secure the attendance of US craft industry representatives at the South African Handmade Collection, held in late July in Johannesburg.

“ABC Home was one of the companies recruited by the DSA-SACG team to attend the SA Handmade Collection exhibition,” Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said in a statement this week.

“A customised seven-day programme across four cities of South Africa was put together by all role players, including the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development.”

Exhibitions, demonstrations

The display of the dolls, which form part of Durban-based Phansi Museum’s main exhibition, follows ABC’s initial purchase of products from various South African vendors to the value of some US$100 000 (about R989 000).

According to the department, the South African Consulate General in New York facilitated the importation of this mini-expo to the US, and his since confirmed the availability of another US museum, the Hugh Museum of Atlanta, to host the Phansi collection, prior to its return to Durban.

Thabethe added that the department has also funded competitive and quality crafters to travel to New York to give live demonstrations of their handicraft work at the height of the city’s holiday season, including:

  • Busisiwe Delina Mabunda, silk weaver (November 11-16)
  • Ngaka Veronica Mathapelo, artisan beader with MonkeyBiz Cooperative (November 28-30)
  • Esther Nikwambi Mahlangu, Ndebele beading master artisan (December 6-7)
  • Aboubakar Fofana, visionary designer using natural Indigo dye on organic textiles (December 6-7); and
  • Angeline Bonisiwe Masuku, Zulu basket weaver (December 12-14)
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