African Artefacts and Crafts – where to find these treasures

It is actually harder to find authentic African artefacts and crafts than one thinks. Yes, we do have many roadside African craft markets, but where to go for upmarket traditional or contemporary African crafts and artefacts?

We did some hunting and came up with a short list of five businesses – each with its own, unique African offering and flair. The good news is that these places are also very close to all of our guesthouses in The Parks area. Especially our international guests will have an interest in visiting – proudly taking home some cultured African memorabilia.

Here we go:

togu’na – 235A Jan Smuts Avenue, Parktown North

At togu’na you’ll find objects sourced from across the African continent. The owners are passionate about unique quality African artefacts and have a workshop that also restores items. Amongst many other items, togu’na has a fascinating collection of masks from many countries such as Angola, Zambia, DRC, Cameroon and Chad.

We put a few of our favourites together on a shelf at the store to share with you. Each item has a community story of origin.

piece – 5th Floor, Ellis House, 23 Voorhout Street, New Doornfontein

piece’s website declares: “Traditional Inspiration; Global Expression”. This is exactly what makes piece so interesting and the crafts so spectacular. When buying handmade crafts, we are buying a piece of heart, a part of a soul, a moment of someone’s life. Many famous visitors have left with pieces from here, filled with the heart and soul of Africa.

piece hosts beading classes throughout the year. The next classes are scheduled for 11; 14; 21 and 24 April.

Kim Sacks Gallery153 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood

When driving down Jan Smuts Avenue, you’ll notice the ‘’clay-vessel” all terracotta wall. This is the upmarket Kim Sacks Gallery. It is creativity that is paramount here whether they are displaying what they call contemporary objects or old material culture, all of which can be shipped internationally. Apart from the commercial shop, the space often hosts exhibitions that are very diverse in their content – from individual potters to group exhibitions with a particular theme, including contemporary folk and tribal art.

Kim Sacks Gallery is famous for its rare display of ceramic art.

Art Africa – 62 Tyrone Avenue, Parkview

Our famous online guide to the city, Johannesburg in Your Pocket describes Art Africa as: “A treasure trove for South African arts and crafts gifts and household accessories made from beads and recycled products. The shop stocks everything from jewellery to fabrics, homeware to furniture, along with extraordinary ceramics, lighting and other handmade goods from all over the continent. Along with exclusive designer goods they stock a superb range of small gift items for under R100”.

Visits to Art Africa are ecstatic colour infusions.

Imbali Visual Literacy ProjectMuseum Africa, Bree Street, Newtown

The last of our five featured businesses is the Imbali shop, which lies closest to our hearts. This shop is a display space for the wonderful work done in crafts training at the Visual Literacy Project in the active Bus Factory, not far from the shop. The Imbali Visual Literacy Project was created as a project of Women For Peace in 1988, when it became clear from the results of a children’s national art competition that children who had little or no access to art at school showed extremely poor perceptual skills. The founders were called upon more and more to set up training programmes for youth and adults toward income-generation, in which creative potential could be developed toward productive and constructive careers in craft and design.

The items in the Imbali shop are all made either by the young designers and crafters on the Imbali training programmes, or graduate-designers from Imbali, or by Imbali trainers and designers. A large percentage of the price of the products goes directly to the maker, helping to sustain them and maintain production levels.