It’s a map of Africa but not as you would usually know it. From a distance it resembles the texture of oyster mushrooms, their delicate fluted forms cast into whorls of soft colour. Up close you can make out the words that have combined to create the map, and the pages of books that have been delicately folded and glued together to create it.
This artwork “Africa Reinvented” has earned Keri Muller her title as the “book artist” or as Google’s search terms locate her, “Cape Town’s origami expert”. Continue reading →
So there I was travelling the highways and byways of the city in a big red open-top double decker bus, making good on Alain de Boton’s declaration that “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” I felt like a tourist, even without the uniform of sandals-and-socks and a giant Nikon camera, or its modern incarnation that involves pointing an iPad at some unfortunate local.
City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus launches in Johannesburg
Artwork by ROA, shot by Martha Cooper. My favourite mural of the I ART Joburg series. Our Saturday walk included a stop at the Mai Mai Market that inspired ROA’s endangered Rhino installation displayed at Area3.
After a two month hiatus spent in my study (and a number of free WIFI-enabled coffee shops across the city including my current favourite Warm & Glad, on 357 Jan Smuts Avenue) finishing my M.A. dissertation, I have been released to feast on the city. Oh how I have missed that. On Saturday we took a walk with Bongani Mathebula from MainStreetWalks to view the murals that form part of the IARTJOBURG project, a brilliant initiative by Ricky Lee Gordon of /and people (love their work), adidas Originals and Plascon.
Here’s the story…
If you go down to Doornfontein today you are in for a big surprise. Look up along Sivewright Avenue as you travel in the direction of Yeoville and there hanging on the wall of an otherwise ordinary commercial face brick block is an elephant, a rhinoceros, a giraffe and three other wild creatures. They appear to be lying across the reinforced concrete beams, their limbs hang limply, and their eyes are closed. Asleep, or extinct, the artist has left it up to you to decide.
Sunday morning in Maboneng – Joburg’s hipster haven on the east side of the city. Urban regeneration comes in the form of a peanut, banana, date and soya milk smoothie. Maboneng has arrived. What could have been a fantasy is now a high-priced and much in demand reality.
And outside Uncle Merv’s shake shack our little crew is getting bigger. It could be the start of a joke… One editor, one photographer, one blogger and two tour guides meet over a smoothie to wait for Rasty…
Rasty with his work. Photo by Wesley Poon for Sunday Times
It sounds like a Hollywood script. A Joburg architect on holiday in Cape Town commits a misdemeanour and gets sentenced to three months community service. Not wanting to have to return to Cape Town he proposes to the court that he contribute to a community closer to home. He comes up with the idea to work with a children’s shelter to train youngsters in how to take photographs with disposable cameras. The plan is to work towards an exhibition of their work after three months. “All I wanted was to give them a night they would never forget,” says 35-year-old Bernard Viljoen.
Cue the scene of the judge stamping “accepted” on the proposal. That was the start of the project called “I was shot in Joburg”. Now two years later an end to Viljoen’s “community service” is nowhere in sight. When I contact him for an interview after buying one of the project’s photographs at Market on Main, in Joburg inner city’s Maboneng District, he is on his way to Cape Town to launch “I was shot in Cape Town”. Bloemfontein is next. Continue reading →
I’m calling it. All that energy and moolah invested in Braamfontein got a little closer to paying off this morning with the opening of Cape Town’s favourite Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. But before I talk about that let’s rewind… The week stared with an invitation from Southpoint Hospitality for an overnight stay at its Hotel Lamunu in Braamfontein. The plan was to spend the night at the hotel, with drinks at the bar, dinner at Ramen, breakfast at the hotel followed by coffee at Velo in The Grove Square (on Melle Street) opposite the hotel and finally… a visit to opening day of the Neighbourgoods market (one of my favourite Cape Town haunts).
Left one rainy city for another for an Easter break near that imposing mountain. Cape Town has toyed with us. One sunny day, one rainy day, one sunny day, one cold day, and so on. Saturday morning led us to Long Street in a city that really seems to work for itself. Long Street ties it all together with its appeal to the cosmo-hippie-boho-bergie-Euro set. The antiques arcade – a real find – and Clarke’s awesome bookstore with its incredible selection of local literature sit side by side with a bar carrying huge signs advertising R10 a shooter (visions are conjured, and they are nor pretty), surf shops, a German barber and my latest find, Yours Truly, home of the artistic cappuccino. Or at least home to Sakky, the guy behind the counter that ended my search for cappuccino art. Definitively.
For the past few months I have taken to photographing my daily cup. Continue reading →
Brokenhearted that it’s all over… a last fix from Design Indaba 2011. And the highlights of the last day were …
Pass the envelope please
As Mexico’s drug war has escalated so has the number of deadly weapons. Pedro Reyes wanted to do something about it. He came up with a campaign that involved creating a series of TV spots in the “shape of a soap opera” entreating the audience to bring a gun to city hall in exchange for a coupon you could trade for a microwave or other household appliances. It broke the record for the voluntary donation of arms with 1527 guns handed in. They were taken to a factory and melted down and fabricated into 1527 shovels. There was “not a big design improvement” is typical of Reyes’ understatement. Just a change in source material – “from an agent of death to an agent of life” as the shovels were handed over to schools and used to plant trees. Continue reading →
As is my mood I go from feeling like the poor relation to being smug about my tiny teeny carbon footprint. And when I am not feeling envious of all those who are in Cape Town for the event I start loving the idea of being at the Design Indaba Joburg simulcast – all of 10 minutes from home – at the University of Johannesburg.
Yesterday was day one of what has been billed as 72 hours of creativity. It wasn’t as much of a BIG NAME IN LIGHTS all-star line-up as I had hoped for and it was more portfolio than big ideas about design and the future but the speakers made for an interesting mix: from American graphic designer Dana Arnett [Harley-Davidson and IBM] whose amusing video about the designer and their client – “Can you make that logo a hair bigger? … My logos are not to be read. They are to be communed with” Continue reading →
Get excited about this year’s Design Indaba as Cape Town’s premier event will be in Joburg next week. With the main conference sold out in CT the organisers have come up with simulcast events in both cities. I am planning to attend DI2011: A Better World Through Creativity, at the Arts Centre Theatre of the University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, for the three-day programme starting Wednesday next week.
I have been to the Design Indaba Expo a few times and last attended Design Indaba on its 10th anniversary in 2007. Then I was watching a presentation on Germany’s World Cup Fan Fests and trying to imagine what World Cup 2010 would be like. Done that!
I am a huge fan of this event that brings together an incredible array of creative minds to share their experiences and inspiring works. It’s the South African equivalent of TED, just a whole lot more stylish. In 2007 my favourite presenters included Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (just the name of that centre would have been enough) who spoke about small-scale project centres that enabled people from severely un-advantaged communities to take part in creating technology and not just consuming it. It was brought together under the idea of “personalising fabrication” – that if you give ordinary people access to modern means of invention – a lab – you get extraordinary things. Continue reading →