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Category: Art + Design

Kitty Powell

Kitty Powell

Home Truths from Down Under It all started with a picture of a picture of a picture.  A beautiful painting – a reproduction – used to hang on a living room wall in my uncle’s (on mother’s side) London apartment.  It was of my grandmother. Entitled Kitty Powell, it was painted by the famous Australian artist, George Lambert, in 1907, I was told.  A sibling had inherited the picture, but kindly gave me a framed sepia photograph of it. This now…

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Stools Pillows Bowls -Utilitarian Art from Africa

Stools Pillows Bowls -Utilitarian Art from Africa

When we think of African tribal art, we think of figurative sculptures of astounding originality in their form and style rather than of everyday artifacts – what is known as utilitarian art. We imagine masks and statues imbued with supernatural powers which give a tribe its socio-religious identity. Although we use this distinction of figurative and utilitarian art, in fact African cultures do not see that difference. All the art of African traditional cultures is functional and part of daily…

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African Art Caravan

African Art Caravan

Johannesburg’s place in the trade and migration of African art objects In Chad, I am taken by camel to visit a man outside the village of Sahr.  I am in search of artifacts which I am told this man – a trader – might have.  As I get to his store, he walks toward me and greets me. ‘Hello, Mark!’ I am thousands of kilometers from home, but a man I have never met before knows exactly who I am. …

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Wabi Sabi and Me

Wabi Sabi and Me

When I first heard the word wabi sabi and learned what it means, it felt like an answer to a big, very important existential question. It was a name for my worldview. This Japanese concept wabi sabi refers to a particular aesthetic which values the beauty of imperfection, of things old, decaying, weathered. A lovingly repaired object, a door whose paint is faded and peeled off by age, use and weather, or a simple and plain design is valued more…

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