Archives: November 2014

What Lies Beneath…the Artwork of LYNDI SALES

The artwork of Lyndi Sales, one of South Africa’s most acclaimed installation artists, is like the bottom of the ocean, unfolding our perceptions and uncovering mysteries of what lies deep beneath us. Lyndi tells me as we sit down in her studio in Observatory, “The ocean is alive with mystery and also it is a gravesite for all those who have died in it.”

Lyndi Sales stands next to one of her artworks titled, Shatter, inspired by shattered watches found at the bottom of the ocean.

Lyndi Sales stands next to one of her artworks titled, Shatter, inspired by shattered watches found at the bottom of the ocean.

Lyndi has always drawn inspiration from the great ocean as it is the resting place of her late father who was one of the 159 passengers aboard the Heldeberg flight that crashed tragically into the Indian Ocean in 1987. Lyndi admits that when the Heldeberg crash occurred she disassociated her father from it as she does not like to be in the public eye. It was only many years later after collaborating on a bird installation with fellow artist Lise Firer, that the suggestion came up for her to do something about the Heldeberg because it was an historical South African event. “I was so worried I would appear sentimental, Lyndi explains, “In the art world sentimentality is not looked upon favorably.” However this was not the case when Lyndi did her first exhibition inspired by the crash. Lyndi created 159/295 out of 159 paper kites , one for each passenger on board South African Airways Flight 295 who all died tragically in the crash, making up one giant kite. The massive kite has gone around the world starting in Cape Town and appearing in exhibitions in Tokyo, San Fransisco, Sydney and Paris. It eventually was sold and landed in Salzburg, Austria where it lives today in the airport hanger for all to see. She admits that at first she tried to deny that the artwork was about the Heldeberg because she didn’t want to be exposed, but soon came to realize her belief that, “Most good art is drawn from the heart and it is personal. The hardest part is being able to tap into that. ”

Lyndi Sale's 159/295 has been exhibited around the world and now rests at the airport hanger in Salzburg, Austria.

Lyndi Sale’s 159/295 has been exhibited around the world and now rests at the airport hanger in Salzburg, Austria.

Before embarking on her next artwork, Lyndi’s spends ample amounts of time researching and drawing inspiration from photographs or objects to create her installations. When she first decided to use the Heldeberg as inspiration she set out to find photographs and came across life vests on the bottom of the ocean. She found a supplier of life preservers at the airport and drove out to have a look at what she could use to create her next artwork. The man who helped her there had no idea why she was there sourcing life vests. He thought maybe she was from the film industry and he brought out new ones which were quite expensive. Lyndi asked him if he had any old ones as she was going to be cutting them up anyway. He went to the back to look for a damaged or older vest. On every life vest there is a date stamped of when it was manufactured and on this particular one he brought out, the date was December 1987. The Heldeberg crashed in late November 1987. She saw it as a sign.

Lyndi uses objects from aircrafts, like this life vest laser cut into coral, to construct her work.

Lyndi uses objects from aircrafts, like this life vest laser cut to look like coral reefs, to construct her work.

One of her later installations, Shatter, cut out of boarding passes, was inspired by watches found at the bottom of the ocean. Still today Lyndi is drawing from the magnificent ocean to inspire her art. Currently she is exhibiting an installation inspired by an iceberg at the big summer show at the What if The World Gallery in Woodstock. The show opens today and her work is on exhibit in the viewing room. Lyndi says she has not yet named the piece but the installation is about the physical body being just the tip of the iceberg.

Sales' latest artwork "the person you see physically is just the tip of the iceberg," goes on exhibit today at the What If The World Gallery in Wodstock.

Sales’ latest artwork “the person you see physically is just the tip of the iceberg,” goes on exhibit today at the What If The World Gallery.

Through the decades Lyndi’s work has morphed considerably from 2 dimensional art into 3 dimensional massive art installations. It just seems to get bigger and bigger I say to her and she smiles. I realize the time and have to dash, as I thank Lyndi and head for the door she says to me, “I feel like we just scratched the surface.” With certainty we had, time and space and depth are all integral parts of her work, Lyndi Sales’ artwork goes deep evoking an incredible sense of discovery for all who observe it.

It’s all in the NECKLACES by SHIRLEY FINTZ

Wearability, beauty and tradition are key components of Shirley's necklaces.

Wearability, beauty and tradition are key components of Shirley’s necklaces.

Shirley Fintz is more well-known for her ceramic art sculptures, but her necklaces which she designs from found objects, African trade beads and vintage glass are another unique and exceptional talent of hers. “The way I string the beads are what makes them nice,” she says humbly, but it is also her eye for finding the right beads and searching high and low to come across some of the rarest, oldest and most beautiful beads in the world today. In just one necklace intertwined are tradition, beauty, sentiment and sacredness making the wearer feel the wealth of what hangs around their neck.

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Shirley has aways had an appreciation for beadwork. She used to collect Zulu Beadwork, now a dying tradition and becoming more and more difficult to find. 10 years ago, Shirley started Monkey Biz as their Creative Director with a desire to keep the tradition alive and to develop new techniques, but also to create employment in South Africa. Shirley says she has been making necklaces her whole life (starting in Zimbabwe where she is from), but she became more passionate about beading as an art when she met “The African Trade Merchant, Sila”. She was always searching for special beads, ripping them out of a garment she would find or coming across one at a flea market, but Sila changed all that as he was the source of all things traditional African. He made the African trade beads available to Shirley in bulk hand-collected from across the continent.

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Thread through almost all of Shirley’s necklaces are African trade beads. Dating back to over 100 years ago, trade beads from Bohemia (Czech Republic), Amsterdam and Venice were traded by exploring Europeans for slave labor in West Africa. The beads became a form of currency in Africa and a sign of wealth. Chevron beads from Nigeria were worn by Kings and still are today. The more layers of glass the beads have the more expensive they become. They are not easy to find these days. They are very rare and a strand of the beads could cost up to R20,000 or $2,000. As Shirley puts it when describing rare beads, “they are not thick on the ground.”

Blue, white and red thick CHEVRON beads from Nigeria are some of the rarest and most expensive beads in the world today. Traditionally they are worn by Kings and centuries ago were traded by Europeans for slave labor in West Africa.

Blue, white and red thick Dutch CHEVRON beads from Nigeria are some of the rarest and most expensive beads in the world today. Traditionally they are worn by Kings and centuries ago were traded by Europeans for slave labor in West Africa.

Shirley sources African trade beads, vintage glass beads, vintage charms or anything she loves and can drill a hole into to craft her necklaces. She is inspired by beauty, but also by tradition and sentiment where or from whom things come from. “If it’s old and traditional and got a vibration I love working with it. I love the process of making something and the meditative state it can bring.” Shirley went through a phase of collecting vintage perfume bottles or lockets from the Victorian age (some still with locks of hair from those loved ones who had passed.) She has also gone through a phase of collecting vintage toy charms and creating necklaces from found tiny toys, but she always finds herself drawn back to African trade beads. “They (African trade beads) are so valuable, but they look like cheap sweets, not like perfect diamonds.” Shirley always includes one or two random little beads on her necklaces, she says as her signature, or a way to express her vision that beauty lies in imperfection.

One tiny random bead signs off a Shirley Fintz necklace. "I love to make a mistake," says Fintz of randomness and one off ness in her work.

One tiny random bead signs off a Shirley Fintz necklace. “I love to make a mistake,” says Fintz of randomness and one off ness in her work.

To view and purchase Shirley’s necklaces visit …

Amy on a Journey’s ETSY SHOP 

DESIGN AFRIKA, Revitalizing the Ancient Craft of African Basketry

Women weaving for a collaborative project with a French NGO, outside Binky's home or Design Afrika's Headquarters.

Women weaving for a collaborative project with a French NGO, outside Design Afrika’s Headquarters.

It’s no wonder when searching for baskets in South Africa, Binky Newman’s name kept coming up. Binky has been training and working with weavers for the last 20 years. After years of running a safari lodge in Botswana’s Okvangano Delta and working closely with basket weavers on a nearby island, Binky decided to focus her attention fully on craft and development. In 1995, Binky founded Design Afrika. Her passion was then and still is today to assist the many rural basket weavers to get their beautiful handcrafted products to the market place.

Naturally died pop of color through the basket transforms the traditional basket into a contemporary piece.

Naturally dyed color in the weave transforms the traditional basket into a contemporary piece.

Design Afrika’s HQ is at Binky’s home in Woodstock where it is not uncommon to find weavers gathered under a tree or on the front porch weaving, dressed in traditional clothing and speaking their native language of Xhosa. Binky explains that many of the weavers are coming from the rural areas in the Eastern Cape. All of Design Afrika’s weavers are women and often the breadwinners for their entire family.

This is a traditional Xhosa weave native to South Africa.

This is a traditional Xhosa weave native to South Africa.

Design Afrika is a fair trade, sustainable, eco-conscious business. Prices for baskets are always negotiated with the women and their skills are constantly being developed. Binky regularly holds workshops sponsored be various NGOS to illustrate new weaving techniques and incorporate contemporary design into tradition basketry.

Sustainable materials are used to weave the baskets. There are two main plants used, one is a river reed known locally as Imizi and the other is a palm tree leaf known as Ilala. Both plants are indigenous to South Africa and not vulnerable. Weavers use traditional natural dye recipes that have been passed down for generations from mother to daughter.

Design Afrika loves to collaborate. This piece was made from recycled strips of materials with designer Helen Melon.

Design Afrika loves to collaborate. This piece was made from recycled strips of materials with designer Helen Melon.

Although many of the baskets are locally produced in South Africa, some are coming from neighboring countries in Southern Africa like Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. When asked about lead times for ordering Binky explains that some products can take up to 6 months for delivery. Once the first rains have started women go straight into the fields to work the crops. Like most things in Africa, everything is dependent upon the rain!

Contemporary meets kitsch meets tradition in these unique and colorful lampshades.

Contemporary meets kitsch meets tradition in these unique and colorful lampshades with plastic top.

For more information on products from Design Afrika please email amyonajourney@gmail.com for a current catalogue.

PICHULIK, South Africa’s Accessories Designer of the Year

Katherine-Mary Pichulik Pichulik Designer and Kat Van Duinen collaborate at this year's Cape Town Fashion Week.

Katherine-Mary Pichulik and Kat Van Duinen collaborate at this year’s Cape Town Fashion Week.

It was a rainy Spring morning in Cape Town yesterday when I headed out to meet Katherine-Mary Pichulik at her studio in Woodstock. Katherine-Mary or Kat is the designer behind the current “it” accessories brand, Pichulik. When I entered, the warm and welcoming Kat offered me a beautifully designed cookie . She had picked some up on the way to the studio for her team of 11, including her to celebrate their latest honor, South Africa’s Accessories Designer of the Year! A great feat for a designer who has had her business, Pichulik, for just two years!

Kat introduces me to her team,mostly woman and one man all sporting vibrant Pichulik designs. The entire team is under 27 -years -old! Kat and I sit down next to a vase of white flowers amidst so much distracting design. I instantly fall in love with Pichulik’s latest range of woven clutches, a collaboration with weavers from Design Afrika. The range of bags will launch this Decemeber at Merchants on Long. Kat also shows me another design in the works, woven rope anklets made to wear over boots. Everything in her studio is gorgeous, handmade and crafted with locally sourced materials.

Gold threaded anklets, one of Pichulik's latest designs

Gold threaded anklets, one of Pichulik’s latest designs

Pichulik and Design Afrika are collaborating on woven clutches with rope edgings. Coming this December!

Pichulik and Design Afrika are collaborating on woven clutches with rope edgings. Coming this December!

Pichulik’s rise to Accessories Designer of the Year started out humbly on Kat’s travels through Europe and Asia. She began making necklaces on long train rides through India. She would wear what she made and people literally began buying them off her neck. Inspired by ornamentation, ceremonies and trade routes Pichulik’s designs have a luxurious tribal aesthetic with rich primary colors, thick ropes, and hints of gold throughout her work. Kat explains to me that jewelry is often used traditionally and tribally to mark an initiation in a women’s life. “Jewlery is not a need and because of this it is about making a woman feel beautiful. When a woman wears this necklace I want her to feel a level of sacredness about herself.”

Black boxes set to go out with Pichulik designs inside. Each person receives a handwritten  note that explains where the each piece is from, reminiscent of trade roots of a long gone era.

Black boxes set to go out with Pichulik designs inside. Each person receives a handwritten note inside that explains where each piece comes from, reminiscent of trade roots of a long gone era.

Although accessory designers usually do not have their own shows at Fashion Weeks, this year, Pichulik did just that at the Cape Town Merecedez Benz Fashion Week. Pichulik premiered her latest collections in collaboration with Kat Van Duinen’s incredible linen garments appearing in all white to compliment Pichulik’s bold designs. Pichulik rose to center stage quickly after doing the accessories for Lalesso, another Cape Town legend, at the August 2012 CTFW. Most recently Pichulik opened a stall at the Watershed as a main retail space in Cape Town. However, Katherine-Mary concedes the online store is doing very well and finds the advantage here is that she is able to track the business so closely and really see what the market is loving.

Wall art designed by Katherine- Mary Pichulik on exhibit at the Watershed.

Wall art designed by Katherine- Mary Pichulik on exhibit at the Watershed.

What’s next for Pichulik, already at the fashion forefront after 2 years, the answer is so much! Kat wants to design a scent that is reminiscent of Africa and she is working towards that right now. Her travels are most certainly going to stay a big part of her inspiration and movement with the brand. In the future, she envisions a kind of moving box or container that travels from one country to another exhibiting her work. There are so many inspiring stories of women in Africa that she says she hopes to document through her work. If Pichulik’s last two years are anything to judge by, you can be sure this is just a scratch on the surface of what’s to come.