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COP 17 Kushikisha Ufutu – The tortoise is getting busy, December 2011

Written by Heath on March 15th, 2012

This was possibly the hardest project I’ve ever engaged in, and the end reasult shows it. There was a last minute opportunity to work on a project over the COP 17 conference in Durban at the end of 2011.


I was asked to run a similar project to the one I did in Harare (earlier blog post).


It basically consisted of working with a group of skilled artisans from Kwa-Zulu Natal, and introducing them to working with waste and ways of innovating with their existing skills and understandings of their capacities as crafters. The engagement was with ideas around shelter, climate change and simple ways to change people’s ways of dealing with waste.


The people involved were:


Tawanda Dengedza

Phumaphi Myende

Betina Khumalo

Thandi Hlabisa

Fikile Biyela

Victor Mpofu

Lindilelani Ndinisa

Wendy Chatterton


There were diverse skills represented: weaving with grass and ilala palm, woodworking, beading, metalcraft, telephone wire weaving… It was an amazing chance for me to begin to see Zulu traditional crafts for the first time – at close range, and also in process.


Why was it difficult?


It was HOT, wet, and there were language barriers. The conference had made Durban into a very busy and congested place. It was also my first time in Durban with no satnav, and I found the city quite difficult to navigate.


Unfortunately time ran out on us too, and the final push of installation was rushed. I am sad that it was so hard and that there were so many difficulties – and that the resulting wok was more of a disaster than a beautiful or uplifting thing.


The point for me had always been more about the personal growth of the individuals involved rather than a predicted end result, and I hope that each person that worked on the project was rewarded by the experience – they expressed their gratitude for having worked with me, and I hope it had a lasting impact.


Tokyo Designboom Mart – November 2011

Written by Heath on March 15th, 2012

I was luckily accepted as one of the participants in the Tokyo Designboom Mart at Tokyo Designer’s Week 2011.


I showed some new small lamps as my contribution to this fabulous setup that Designboom makes happen at a number of major design fairs around the globe each year. I also contributed some very oversized shopping bags as a feature lighting element for above the stand. They were very cool.


It was such a great experience to meet and hang out with so many other designers and makers, and also to get a chance to see and begin to understand the strange wonderful surprising magical clever sophisticated world that is the Japanese market. I made friends and influenced people.


I stayed with a friend and coconspirator Liezel Strauss whilst in Tokyo. See her blog tokyolily…..etc etc to understand her position in Japan as an insider/outsider. Liezel helped me to arrange a small exhibition with assistance from the South African Chamber of Commerce in Japan. It was charming.


Facebook album link:



Spier Chandelier – Installed October 2011

Written by Heath on March 15th, 2012

A commission based on previous work done at a restaurant called 8 at Spier, this was a piece for their newly built wine tasting space. They wanted to work with their own wine bottles.


This is the result.



DNA Conference and Exhibition – Jo’burg September 2011 – Design Network Africa began here.

Written by Heath on March 15th, 2012

This is a network (currently being formed) of designers from 28 different African countries, funded by the Danish (Danish Centre for Culture and Development, DANIDA). As it is still in its infancy, little can be said about it as yet, BUT this event in Joburg (timed to coincide with the Joburg Art Fair) was the inaugural meeting of us all where we hashed out some ideas about what this network could become, and got a chance to see each others work on an exhibition put together by the DNA director Trevyn McGowan.


The show was astonishing. I’ve never seen so much potential in one room before. The network also has the potential to be a serious force in the global design world of the future.


Jo’burg Art Fair 2012 – Southern Guild

Written by Heath on March 15th, 2012

Southern Guild ( showed for the 3rd time at the Jhb Art Fair in 2011. My Ngwenya Vases were presented at the show, entitled ‘inner volume vases’ – forms within forms.


This was the most exciting development from my short trip to Swaziland earlier in the year. The idea of lifting the water off of the table was interesting to me, and the interplay between a large amount of air encapsulated inside a glass sheath.


The production process of these vases was really hard to master for the blowers at Ngwenya. As an outsider in the factory, I was able to push the glass blowers into spaces that they would not have considered going themselves… This is an area I hope to work in more in future (especially with other African producers with special skills and processes).


The range was EXTREMELY well received at the fair, all the vases selling out in the first 3 hours of the show (to my surprise). It was a great encouragement to me that I am well suited to continue exploring this kind of product and skills development work in the future..


Alley Project – The Fringe, Cape Town Creative Week September 2011

Written by Heath on March 14th, 2012

As part of Cape Town creative week in the newly designated Fringe district in the east city, I was asked to beautify an alley in Harington Street.


I asked Lyall Sprong (from ThingKing) to join forces with me on this as I knew he had made a series of spinning plastic windmills for another project in Kayelitsha previously. This was the kernel that the project started with…


So we installed a new piece of fence, and arranged a workshop day to beautify the thing. On the appointed day, I brought along a whole lot of colourful bottle bases (parts we don’t use much in my own production), and the public was asked to make a windmill as they passed by and attach it to the fence.


It was a triumph.



Red River School Workshops – Manenberg, September 2011

Written by Heath on March 14th, 2012

This was a project done in conjunction with Rock Girl and Cecile & Boyd’s – SA’s prestigious interior design firm. I ran plastics workshops over a month with learners from a very dry, dusty, arid and under-loved school on the Cape Flats.


For me, the opportunity was one in which these kids could experience a creative process – there is no art class at the school… (most of the kids had never made anything before ever!!!).


This was a learning experience for me in that I had previously only worked with kids from more privileged backgrounds – kids that were either related to artists/designers, or that had teachers  who could fill that role. I think everyone enjoyed it, but it was tough for us all too – it was new ground for everyone involved. Nonetheless, some v v v v v v cool things were made, and hopefully some small understanding of one’s own creative power was communicated by the freedom inherent in the act of making.



Flux Aura – Turku, Finland June 2011

Written by Heath on March 14th, 2012

Turku was the capital of culture in Finland in 2011, and this project was run in conjunction with Mum’s (my Finnish and Swedish agent/distributor) and the city of Turku.


We set up ‘shop’ in the street outside the modern art museum on the River Aura in Turku, and allowed the public walking past to make and attach plastic components to some wire ball structures we had pre-assembled.


It was wild.


Some people sat with us for a whole day. Some astonishing creations were made and attached to our structures… see the pictures for yourself…


The end result was that these  balls were installed for 3 months on a bridge over the Aura River during the beautiful long days of summer in Finland. Public art by the public for the public – in conjunction with the Nash and Mums of course!


Bushfire Festival – Swaziland – May 2011

Written by Heath on March 14th, 2012

I ran a workshop with designers and crafters from established and up n coming producers around Swaziland. The plan was to create articles of adornment for the festival goers. There were diverse materials and skills represented from glass through to felt and tapestry.  Some great results were fashioned, most importantly though was the time everyone got to try something new – and to engage directly with the idea of re-use as a primary concern.



let there be glass – ngwenya glass workshop

Written by Heath on March 13th, 2012

A 3 day workshop last year in May – providing insight into some tremendous recycled glass glass-blowing in Swaziland at Ngwenya Glass – a way for me to get a feel for how it is done, with the hopes of working a future project together. I tried using enamel bowls as molds, tried to coil-build with molten glass, and also developed the beginnings of a vase which is now a product… Glass is VERY WEIRD stuff, but at least now I know that, and have some limited experience with it as a material…

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