Making the circle bigger

Neo Bodumela

FOUR top South African designers will share their knowledge in a fashion and crafts event which will be held at Port Elizabeth’s Athenaeum next week. Twenty Nelson Mandela Bay designers and crafters will get a chance to tap into the expertise of Terrence Bray, Craig Jacobs, Anna-Marie Claasen and Ronel Jordaan during the week.

Bray said that for the design industry to survive, those with more experience had to share their knowledge with the younger generation.

“I love the region, the people and I am inspired by the level of skill in the Eastern Cape,” Bray said.

“During the week, I will discuss contemporary relevance of the crafts and the varied application of skills.

“It’s important for business sustainability that the next generation of designers have a skills set based on and guided by experienced designers, as this is the pool of possible employees.

“The key for growing business is drawing from diversity.”

The arts and crafts week will be held from July 22 to July 27 at the Athenaeum in Central as part of the Mandela Bay Development Agency’s (MBDA) Know Your Artist campaign.

Textile artist Ronel Jordaan said she was relishing the opportunity to share her skills with the participants

“It is an important project for Port Elizabeth and the fact that the wool industry is based there gives me the opportunity to share my skills with other crafters using wool as a medium,” Jordaan said.

“Experienced designers have a memory of skills and techniques that they have accumulated and each individual approaches techniques, designs or processes in different ways.

“With each new crafter or designer comes a new, improved way of creating. As a collective we can all learn from each other, in a respectful way.”

The list of 20 crafters includes independent designers, crafters from The Hope Factory, the MBDA beaders and crafters from Red Location in New Brighton.

The craft and fashion week is coordinated by Silver Spoon Apparel, a Nelson Mandela Bay-based fashion label and The Swallows Foundation SA, a non-profit organisation working as a development agency with regard to arts and culture in the Eastern Cape.

Stephanie Beyers of Silver Spoon said the week presented a chance for the Nelson Mandela Bay crafters to shine.

“This is really an opportunity for Port Elizabeth people who work with crafts to showcase their products to the public and to national buyers, wholesalers and traders at the buyers’ lounge,” she said.

The buyers’ lounge will be open for the public on Friday July 26 and the next day at 1pm.

The idea is to invite national buyers and exhibitors in order to expose them to the city and the province’s unique products.

“The major objective of the week is to bring four well-established designers from across South Africa to work with 20 Eastern Cape crafters, developing a product for an exhibition and enhancing their skills during the week.”

The Nelson Mandela Bay crafters will also go through three days of workshops with the national designers with a business mentorship talk on the final day of the week.

“[This] could open up and give rise to the revival of the industry in our diverse, colourful city and province,” Beyers said.

A final public exhibition of the crafts and fashion will open on Monday July 29 and close on Friday August 2.

For more information contact: Gcobani Poltini, (041) 582-3662

ýSee Page 10 for La Femme’s “My Favourite Room” article with Beyers and her husband Dieter van der Berg.

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