This past weekend, the rooftop of Hyde Park Corner was once again transformed into a veritable wonderland of food, wine and design, with Africa’s foremost artisans attracting a large audience of aesthetes at the 2018 Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair (Sanlam HmC). With over 122 exhibitors, copper was combined with creativity to turn metal into meaning. Cotton was transformed into fine threads under a master maker’s clever vision. This year was all about ‘A Return to Making’—a celebration of the artisanal expertise that is turning the world’s gaze firmly on Africa.

It takes a specific set of traits to transform raw materials into meaning—traits that Africa’s artisans possess in droves.  A Return to Making is about the makers’ journeys of creating; the focus is on unpacking the process to show exactly what it takes to produce something well-made in Africa. 122 artisans took part in the Fair this year, 50 of whom were first-timers, including Houtlander, Karu, and Khokho; the Sanlam HmC used its ninth year to shine a spotlight on their stories.

The Sanlam HmC created an enabling platform for entrepreneurship, which is so critical to driving economic growth in Africa. This is one of the predominant reasons why Sanlam has proudly sponsored the Fair since 2010. Trurman Zuma, Chief Executive of Integrated Solutions at Sanlam said, “The same traits that allow artists to turn raw materials into meaning also allow Wealthsmiths to transform money into meaning. For the last 100 years, Sanlam has been committed to investing in this continent’s potential. Our footprint across 33 African countries is testament to this. By supporting platforms like this fair, we help enable the entrepreneurship that so pivotal to our mission to create a continent of Wealthsmiths.”

A Word from the Exhibitors

Gisele Human, founder and sculptural jeweller behind the brand Waif commented that this year’s theme solidified her belief that the best possible future of capitalism would be one of slow making, sustainability and conscious consumerism. “The onus is on makers to push levels of quality and design to make this future a reality.”

Celeste Arendse, founder of Selfi—a brand that creates bespoke apparel and accessories—said, “Sanlam HmC is and continues to be one of the only design fairs that represents the best of South African design! The fair bought together an audience that understands and appreciates the essence of good design and I was so privileged to be a part of it this year.  It is crucial for any local brand to sustain themselves.”

 

A Fair to Remember

Conceptualised by Artlogic in 2010, the fair remains under the company’s custodianship. Mandla Sibeko, Artlogic director, said 2018 has been one to remember, even with the thunderstorms, “This year we were privileged to have renowned Mozambican textile designer Wacy Zacarias head up our ‘Well Made in Africa’ feature. In her role as guest curator, Zacarias chose five African artisans who embody the best of the continent’s high-end, heritage-influenced offering. Together with their SA counterparts, these incredible artisans flew the flag high for Well Made in Africa. The exhibitors came from Morocco, Ghana, Mozambique and Burundi.”

This year, the fair also introduced newly created pavilions, which were led by five Featured Designers. These pavilions brought together exhibitors with similar offerings, curating seating areas within each pavilion that served as conceptual foci throughout the fair.

 

The 2018 Featured Designers included:

Textile designer Sindiso Khumalo

Ceramicist Michael Chandler

South Africa’s pioneering lifestyle brand Babylonstoren,

Leading contemporary jewellers Tinsel Gallery

And wine expert Nkululeko Mkhwanazi.

 

Cassandra Twala, fair curator, remarked, “We had an exciting selection of artisans at each pavilion, with lots of new exhibitors from across the continent. Visitors were treated to the best of the best in local fashion, lifestyle and homeware brands, top SA chefs, high-end wine labels, microbreweries and speciality foods. As always, our intention was to connect entrepreneurs and SMEs to a supportive audience that truly appreciates their craft.”

Every year, artisans compete for the coveted ‘returning exhibitor’ spot. This year’s returning fair favourites included Pichulik, Adele Dejak, Skinny La Minx, Simon and Mary, as well as Steenberg Wines.


For more on the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair, visit www.sanlamhmc.co.za.