SA’s premier show of high quality handmade crafts opens

Johannesburg – South Africa’s premier exhibition of handmade crafts, Beautiful Things, opened on March 30, 2023, at The Living Heritage Women’s Museum in Pretoria’s Sammy Marks Square.

The exhibition is presented by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the Department of Small Business Development, and will showcase a wide range of high-quality handmade products by talented crafters from the country’s nine provinces.

The annual exhibition that runs until September not only celebrates the crafters but also brings about awareness of the rich potential for entrepreneurship in the craft sector of the creative industries.

The exhibition will work under the title Hands On, and the theme the curators say will be the guiding philosophy for thinking beyond and creating space for the creative exchange of ideas.

Therefore the works on display will be for education, preservation of history, culture, heritage, and public enjoyment. It will be inclusive and reflective of the diversity of South Africa.

Crafters, among others, include Alex Ceramic Art in the Design Studio, Keiskamma Art Project, and Kgotso Pati.

Creative John-Anthony Boerma from Art Aid said: “In selecting the work, the aim is not to define a commonality but rather to suggest that there exists a wealth of diversity and a strong desire to express individuality.”

The aim is to give insight into the curatorial vision of Andile Magengelele, where the crafters and craft products are selected and represent a new generation of crafters who have borne witness to political, economic and cultural transition.

Magengelele said: “Beautiful Things embraces and celebrates shifts in social realities via the creation of an artistic language, thus expressing the world through creative visions informed by the changes the country has seen. In so doing, we try to capture the contemporary thirst to discover alternative histories and embrace the unpredictable trajectory of cultural narratives in post-apartheid South Africa. The new vision of arts and culture goes beyond social cohesion to nourish the soul of the nation. We believe that arts and culture play a vital role in economic self-determination and the skill development of people.”

Joseph Mathe, deputy director of craft at the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, said: “Beautiful Things is an exhibition design concept through which we want to raise the profile of South African handmade products. The concept was used for the first time in 2002, when South Africa hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Since then, the exhibition has been used occasionally, with the last edition at the Graskop Gorge in Mpumalanga in March 2022.”

The 2023 edition will be at the Women Living Heritage Monument at Sammy Marks Square in Pretoria next to the South African State Theatre.

The Women Living Heritage Monument was built by the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation.

“This edition has been conceptualised to be an ongoing exhibition, which will be operated alongside a craft shop and a six-month-long incubator programme,” Mathe said.

The exhibition, shop, and online store will be managed as part of the incubator programme co-ordinated by the SA Creative Industries Incubator.

Nine crafters (one from each province) are being selected to be part of an accelerator programme where they will receive tailored business coaching, product development support, and access to markets.

Article Courtesy of iOl – Written by Anita Nkonki

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