Lithuba Lakho call for crafters for PE exhibition

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum will show work drawn from across the province

Mawethu Gamlashe is holding ‘Found Objects’ by Allan Botha – one of the submissions for Lithuba Lakho 2019
Mawethu Gamlashe is holding ‘Found Objects’ by Allan Botha – one of the submissions for Lithuba Lakho 2019
Image: Eugene Coetzee

We only want your best, say the organisers of the 2019 Lithuba Lakho – “This is Your Opportunity” – craft exhibition and competition in the Eastern Cape.

The brainchild of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum director Emma O’Brien, Lithuba Lakho started four years ago to give a platform to small businesses working in the art field. At its core, crafters and designers working in this province are invited to submit their “outstanding creations” for an exhibition to be held at the NMMAM in Port Elizabeth from March 29.

“This year we’ve been ruthless, we only want your best! In past years we were more lenient, now we have said we are looking for one piece or object that deserves to be in a museum,” O’Brien said.

“In the past we’d often get 10 pairs of earrings and one beautiful necklace, this year we want just that one necklace that proves that you are a crafter at the top of your game.”

One of the selection criteria was that entries had to be innovative and showcase local Eastern Cape creative spirit. And her dedication to lifting the standard is starting to pay off, with a treasure trove drawn in by the cut-off date for entries of Friday March 15.

In 2018, Lithuba Lakho was shown as part of the craft village at the Ironman championships, which gave it an international audience. However, looking ahead O’Brien would like it to be included at a festival where it can be given more prominence.

She said Lithuba Lakho was planned as a vehicle to promote export quality craft, across a range of creative fields. It was initiated by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum (Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality).

Selection has been taking place all over the province with drop-off days in Alice, Port Alfred, Makhanda, East London, Aliwal North, Queenstown, Mthatha, Mount Ayliff and Mount Frere.

“I’ve been trying to develop craft and I’ve been adamant from the beginning that this talent needs to be developed from the grassroots level,” O’Brien said.

The works on show at Lithuba Lakho will be for sale but as high-end, once-off objects and there will also be prizes for the most outstanding work. Unsold work will be returned to the crafter after the exhibition closes.

Unlike in the first three years, crafters were only able to submit three works for consideration in 2019. However, they had wide scope with four winners to be chosen in the categories of homeware, contemporary accessories, traditional accessories and apparel.

Each category winner will receive a prize of materials or machinery of their choice to the value of R15,000 and the top 10 crafters will be profiled in a brochure.

More information available from Yandiswa Sodaba, 043-704-5600, or Athenkosi Baliso, 043-704-5614, or O’Brien, 041-506-2000,