A funny thing happened at the Turbine Art Fair

Turbine Art Fair

The Turbine Art Fair

I always love the Turbine Art Fair. I wander around admiring the art, discovering new artists and feeling inspired by the high level of creative talent in South Africa. But this year was different. Yes, I walked around and I admired everything and fell in love with a few pieces, but then – I walked outside to the courtyard for a glass of champagne. And a funny thing happened:-

The Casspir Project

The Casspir Project<

The Casspir Project

As I was standing in line at the Turbine Art Fair bar I glimpsed a rather large art installation. And so, instead of champagne, I wandered over to have a look. It was a tank. A huge tank, a Casspir, decorated in millions of brightly coloured glass beads. I have never seen anything like it before – the most astonishing and frightening piece of weaponry had been turned into a work of art. It was completely extraordinary, mind-blowing even, but before I had a chance to admire it properly, another funny thing happened:-

Under the tank view of the Casspir Project

Under the tank view, Casspir Project

Kennedy and Boaz

Two of the artists who had been involved with the project and were telling people all about it stopped me. They knew me! I knew them. They’re the guys who hang out on the side of the road outside The Garden Shop in Rosebank. They’re the local street artists, street beaders, who make magnificent beaded sculptures and sell them off the pavement. They’re the most talented guys who I always feel don’t get enough recognition for their art. And now – here there were at the Turbine Art Fair – two of 80 artists who worked on the Casspir Project. I felt totally overjoyed to find out they’d been working on this huge project.

Ralph Ziman

The Casspir Project is the brainchild of movie-maker Ralph Ziman, a South African who now lives in the USA. It’s all part of a project to reclaim the weapons used to oppress people (think back to how the Casper was a symbol of the apartheid government) and to turn weapons from objects of hatred into objects of love. Put simply, to make love not war. Ralph employed 80 people to work on the project – 74 women from Mpumalanga and 6 men – and the men turned out to be the bead-workers from Rosebank.

What happens now?

The tank will be in Johannesburg for a while and will then be travelling to various exhibitions around the world. And the beaders? Well, they go back to their corners. You can find Kennedy Mwashusha, Boaz Manzwenga, Lenon Tinarwo and their colleagues outside the Garden Shop, corner Bolton and Jan Smuts Avenue, Rosebank. It’s really worthwhile going to have a look at their work which is just beautiful. Their beaded birds make fabulous presents and you may just find yourself taking a sheep or a goat home too.

Bead artist: Boaz Manzwenga

Bead artist, Boaz Manzwenga

Jozi Guesthouse guests

If any of our guests ask us ‘where we can get lovely, local presents’ we always suggest a trip to visit the Rosebank beaders. Their work is astonishing, creative, colourful, African and unique. It is also affordable and if they don’t have what you’re looking for, they will make it for you. Ask your Johannesburg Guesthouse owner to direct you. All our guesthouses are in the Rosebank region and just a short drive (or walk) away from the Garden Shop.Beaded Zebra

Beaded Animal