Interview: Beautiful Things Exhibition 2022 – enchantment of our country through designs, textures and forms

What: Beautiful Things Exhibition #beautifulthings2022  
When: March 10-16, 2022
Where: Graskop Gorge, Mpumalanga Graskop. The exhibition is in the Graskop Gorge Lift precinct
On exhibition: 90 crafters – from nine provinces in South Africa
On sale: The pieces are for sale – priced from less than R 1000 to R 28 000- at the exhibition and via the online catalogue
Curators: John–Anthony Boerma and Mandla Hlope
Social media: Follow @beautifulthingscraft on Instagram and Facebook for updates on how to access the exhibition and the catalogue virtually  

The much anticipated exhibition, Beautiful Things, opens today, March 10, 2022, at theGraskop Gorge, Mpumalanga. The exhibition, which runs until March16, is in the Graskop Gorge Lift precinct in Mpumalanga and is being presented by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and the Graskop Gorge Lift Company. The exhibition will be opened today (March 10), by the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa. The Graskop Gorge is a breathtakingly beautiful setting for an exhibition of Beautiful Things. In the current world of global rupture, the exhibition is a celebration of design, texture and form – and creating “beautiful things.”  The exhibition has been curated by John-Anthony Boerma from Art Aid (based in Mbombela, Mpumalanga) and co-curated by Mandla Hlophe of Malengs Holdings. John-Anthony Boerma provides insights into the curation of this exhibition in a space which is crowded with visitors, riding the Graskop Gorge Lift and relishing the magnificent views.

Over two thousand submissions for Beautiful Things 2022


There were around two thousand submissions for Beautiful Things 2022. Ninety pieces were selected. You had to consider the space and audience and venue (busy), which is on the Panorama Route and attracts over 200 thousand tourists a year. They couldn’t for example select jewellery as the logistics would be difficult to arrange. John-Anthony Boerma: “The 90 products were specifically chosen for their excellence in skill as well as their originality, reflecting the cultures of South Africa and its people. Coupled with these criteria, we also had to bear in mind that the venue is not a traditional gallery space but rather a space with high traffic flow, allowing market access and exposure. We can’t always expect buyers to come to our crafters. We have to take the goods to where they can be seen, appreciated and sold. Careful consideration was taken in the selection of products to relate specifically to the not so traditional venue.”

Indoor and outdoor exhibiting of Beautiful Things

Around 75-80 pieces are being exhibited indoors and the rest outdoors. Are the outdoor pieces large and weather proof? John-Anthony Boerma: “The larger pieces, which are weather resistant, were chosen specifically to be placed outdoors against the magnificent backdrop that the gorge allows.”

Beautiful Things catalogue is online

There is an online live catalogue. Buyers can purchase works, even if they are not there? John-Anthony Boerma: “The catalogue contains all the social handles and contact details of the artists which would allow a potential buyer to be in touch  directly. There are 90 works online and at the physical exhibition.”

Curating Beautiful Things from multiple spheres of practice

How have you gone about curating – selecting from multiple spheres of practice? John-Anthony Boerma: “Most of the works curated include almost every genre of creative practice ranging from ceramics, beadwork, fabric, woodcarving, glasswork, mixed media and many more. These works may appear to be the product of new ideas, but they are actually fresh variations on pre-existing themes, reinvented for contemporary markets and tastes. They are a creative dialogue with the past that has given rise to new forms of expression.”

Enchantment of South Africa through design

At the moment, we live in a world, where there is a lot of rupture and here you have an exhibition of Beautiful Things for us to contemplate. I am sure that there must have been submissions of beautifully made objects which were not imaged around beautiful things and then you had to take a pass on those objects? It is the tussle between form and image. That must have been challenging for you and John Hlophe as co-curators? John-Anthony Boerma: “Through this exhibition, it is hoped by my co-curator and myself that you will gain an insight into our country’s essence through the hands, the creativity and the minds of these gifted rural and urban crafters. You will see how important a role they play in bringing to life the enchantment of our country through their designs, their textures and their forms. We also hope that it will become apparent how we are all intricately connected through the fabric of our multidimensional country, and how we – ourselves, our artists, our economy – are designed for interdependence. We all have different gifts that complement each other to make up a vibrant whole.”

Beautiful Things- generating income for crafters/artists


Beyond being an important showcase of work this exhibition plays an important role in generating income for the artists. John-Anthony Boerma: “Craft can, and does, put food on the table of hundreds of thousands of South Africans. You can make a career out of being a crafter. The good news is that we are seeing more young people becoming interested in craftwork and design – it’s no longer seen as something for the older generations. And they are adding a creative spin to their designs, blending their traditional skills with innovative elements. We invite you to travel with us on a journey to explore the dreams and aspirations of the people of Mzansi through their artworks depicting our environment, landscapes and imagery, and our kaleidoscope of people and cultures. We hope that through this showcase one will be inspired, moved and energised as we are by the works exhibited.  We trust you will leave with your horizons expanded and your notions of craft revisited. Join us and these 90 creatives in this leap of faith into a future filled with new possibilities.”

Beautiful Things Exhibition 2022: Selina Makwana (Mapula Embroidery Trust). Supplied.

Beautiful Things Exhibition 2022:  Karosswerkers. Supplied.

Beautiful Things Exhibition 2022: Kenny Nonyane. Supplied.

Beautiful Things Exhibition 2022: Bongani Khumalo (Western Cape)- in a beautiful setting at Grakop Gorge. Supplied.
Beautiful Things 2022: Exhibition space- entrance. Supplied.
Beautiful Things 2022: Inside at the exhibition – beautiful things to contemplate. Supplied.
Beautiful Things 2022- exhibitors      

Eastern Cape:  

Bernadette Swartz
Bianca Whitehead
Lookout Sibanda
Noluyolo Vundisa
Cindy Ntombosindiso Maphini (Umvuzo Wethu Co-Operative)
Yolanda Ginya Zoleka Muma    

Free State:  

Dieketseng Mokone    

Gauteng:  

Ashleigh Christelis
Beauty Mpofu
Charmaine Haines
Chris Lebese (Pitseng)
Clement Maenetja
Gari Louridas
Imbali Lindiwe Hlatshwayo
Lucas Ndala
Mmutla Mashishi
Njabu (LaShongwe Design)
Nkosinathi Hadebe (Nazo Accessories)
Phindile Msiza (PR Designs & Accessories)
Pholile Hlongwane
Selina Makwana (Mapula Embroidery Trust)
Sinalo Ntuli Sizani Baloyi
Vusi Emmanuel
Silinda Yanga Tukela    


KwaZulu-Natal:  

Angeline Masuku
Badumile Dlamini
Bongiwe Mkhwanazi
Bonisiwe Dolly Ndlovu
Kathy Mthembu
Udwendwe Arts and Craft
Mano Dladla
Mlamuli Zulu
Ntando Lincoln Mgwengwe
Ntombizodwa Roslina Khanyile
Phumlani Nyawo
Sibusiso Dlamini
Woza Moya
Zamandosi Cele (Iqhikiza Beadwork & Trading)
Winnie Nene (Woza Moya)
Buselaphi Xaba (Woza Moya)
Thobile Zuma (Woza Moya)
Benziwe Blose (Woza Moya)    

Limpopo:  

Amorous Maswanganyi
Karosswerkers
Khazanhe Beading Group
Kheila Ngobeni
Mapuve Pots
Mukondeni Potters
Petrus Sekele
Pilato Bulala
Sophia Baloyi
Tebocho Mathase
Thando Mahlangu (Ingwani Creations)
Thomas Kubayi

Kenny Nonyane    

Mpumalanga:  

Alucia Kumalo
Elizabeth Malee
Ella V Mahlangu
Griet van der Meulen
Thulisile Prudance Makakola
John Nkosi
Letty Jiyane
Louis Hartley
Margaret Mahlangu
Sunnyboy Nkuna
Eunice Nkosi
Robert & Son Art Gallery
Simon Yeseni
Sophie Mahlangu
Zanele Skosana    

North West:   Amogelang Pila Peter Makheta (Makhetha Hand Craft) Samuel Sibeko (Take No Time)    

Northern Cape:  

Ruth Naomi Issel
Sibongile Shane Mayongo    

Western Cape:  

Aretha Doyle
Goodness Ndimande (Design Afrika)
Mphakathi Weavers
Bomikazi Nomlala (Clareb Accessories)
Bongani Khumalo
Janette Anderson
Godfrey Dambuleni
Boniface Chikwenhere
Jeff Mwazha
Corinne Erasmus
Monkey Biz
Thiyane Duda      

❇ Featured image: Beautiful Things- the exhibition is curated by John-Anthony Boerma from Art Aid (left) and co-curated by Mandla Hlophe of Malengs Holdings. Image supplied.