I recently saw the Cartier building, in New York, all wrapped up for the festive season as well as enticing winter markets across Prague and Germany and it got me thinking about Christmas in South Africa. While we love our heritage traditions, I do feel (and have felt for some time) that we need to make it more US. More South African, more African.
Visiting the V&A Waterfront last night, I was delighted to see some Africanised decorations! The main focus being woven baskets shaped like Xmas baubles hanging from the centre walkway! While I was aware of the Joy from Africa to the World project, an exhibition currently on that features hand-crafted baskets from around Africa, I had no idea it would extend outside the show and it really was the most delightful surprise!
Joy from Africa to the World
While the V&A was quiet, we popped into the exhibition and saw so many amazing artworks, designs, utensils and more. Including creations from a number of countries across Africa, it’s a wonderful way to see what’s possible with woven creations – from bowls, to hats, bags, designer furniture, jewellery, artwork and installations, the exhibition draws attention to the discipline, design and art form of many people across the continent.
100 Beautiful Baskets exhibition
With a strong focus on Southern Africa’s diverse groups of basket-weavers, this first-of-its-kind free exhibition brings together some of the most revered names in basketry, giving this highly skilled handcraft the recognition it deserves. 100 Beautiful Baskets showcases African heritage moving into a contemporary world – a collective culture that all people from this continent can recognise, share and take pride in.
Local is Lekker
One of the featured artists, Master weaver Angeline Masuku from Hlabisa in KwaZulu-Natal, says it took her three full weeks (over 200 hours) to weave the Ukhamba Podium Basket on show at the exhibition.
Angeline is well-known for her Zulu Art weaving techniques, as well as the materials she uses, and prides herself on creating unique designs true to her style and upbringing. By the age of 18, Angeline was an artist in her own right, leading the way for the next generation of female weavers.
“Since 2019 we have set out to infuse the festive season with purpose and meaning. We didn’t want to do away with the celebration, but rather, we wanted to do it in a way that showcases authentic African stories, shines a spotlight on the creativity of the people of this country and continent and celebrates our heritage. We wanted to inspire locals and the rest of the world by sharing the story of a joyful Africa – it is our story, told our way,” explains Tinyiko Mageza, Executive Manager: Marketing at the V&A Waterfront.
Festive Décor and Travelling Totems
There will be other festive décor elements being installed across the V&A Waterfront neighbourhood for this season. The décor talks to the vision of being inspired by local creativity, while driving a message of sustainability, through using materials that are reused and can be recycled.
This year, eight large and intricate totems have been created by local communities from around the country who are known for the creativity and celebration of South African craft and heritage, will be displayed throughout the V&A Waterfront this season.
Other key installations for visitors to look out include a Summer Palace for kids to wander through, colourful hanging baskets in the open-air atriums, golden swallows made from recycled metal, swooping through the mall, and a giant Christmas tree.
Our Festive Season
It’s high season in South Africa – skies are blue, boats are sailing, garden cricket sets being pulled out the garage and family time is a must. Most importantly, gathering with friends and family has never been so precious after 18 months of the pandemic. Instead of promoting international brands and what we deem as “cool”, it’s time to focus on what makes US lekker, what makes us unique and what makes us proudly African.
100 Beautiful Baskets Exhibition:
- Open to the public from 25th November 2021
- Time: 10am – 7pm daily.
- Entrance: free
- Venue: Old Nu Metro Cinema complex, Level 1, Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre (above H&M)