In our small corner of Johannesburg is a shop that I absolutely love. Art Africa stocks the amazing creative work done by small communities in rural areas. A lot of these community projects had little exposure in the larger world,and this shop gives them an outlet and a chance for customers to discover their work.

Over the years Art Africa  has gone from strength to strength, moved to bigger premises a few door down and is always busy. They have subsequently opened two more outlets in Umhlanga in Kwazulu Natal and in Knysna in the Western Cape.

art africa shop

Here you can find sculptures, beadwork, amazing Christmas tree decorations, homewares, jewelry, furniture and much much more. To walk into the shop is to be assaulted by a rainbow of colour. In order to focus on items you almost have to go into the store wearing blinkers.

The staff in the shop are wonderful, they have taken my children into their hearts and always have time to ask how the studies are going and how we all are.

When I decided to write this post, I went down to the shop to scout out the stock As I walked around, I realised that this would be the ideal post for this day, the day Nelson Mandela’s state funeral takes place. And as I can’t possibly feature all the items for sale, I decided to feature the angels. I walked around spotting angels everywhere. When I thought I was done, I’d see another one. From brightly colored felt and bead creations to carved wood sculptures with sunglasses, the range covers all possible materials and styles.

While I don’t believe Madiba was an angel, he set an extraordinary example to the world and was a leader who was in touch with his people. Living in a times when politicians have forgotten who put them in office (the people) and exactly what their jobs are (to run the country on behalf of the people), I guess the common touch makes any politician almost angelic. Here’s to Mandela’s ideals of peace and reconciliation in the world!

Art Africa does not have a website. You have to physically go to the shop.
Tyrone Avenue, Parkview Johannesburg

Advent Challenge 15 – Angels for Africa

2 thoughts on “Advent Challenge 15 – Angels for Africa

  • December 17, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Apologies if this is a fairly negative comment but I have found that many of these stores are quite exploitative in that they pay the artist very little as a percentage (maybe up to 20%) of the final price of the item. Pretty much like so many of the ‘rhino orphanage funds’ out there where 80% of the funds go into new Landcruiser’s and ‘staff running costs’. I have tallied up that I have donated to 26 different rhino funds – just how many are legit, I don t know? 🙁

    • December 17, 2013 at 8:56 am

      Always good to have some debate. Especially about ethics. One would hope that the community projects they support set their own prices for their goods and the shop pays them and adds a margin, like any business would do. I will ask. They do stock items from some pretty well established local artists and crafts people and they are not cheap, so hopefully that means the artists sets the price. There are sometimes questionable ethics attached to the art business, I agree. I have recently heard of artists who get signed up exclusively to one of the big galleries, and then the gallery gets upset with them, or takes on too many artists and so their works are sitting in the gallery store without any exposure and they are sitting with no income because they can’t take their work elsewhere. I think all art schools should teach a module of business studies.
      Re the rhino thing. Any reputable charity will have running costs. If they are a serious organisation they will work with permanent staff, not volunteers only, so a percentage of any donation would have to go to staff and/or stuff. In my mind, that means EWT gets my money, or FreeMe (because I know how close to the bone and lean they are and I have seen the work they do). The rhino bead bracelets that are trendy at the moment are a case in point. The ones that channel money back to the EWT can only be found at Woolies. Any other ones are unknown.

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