Solemn ceramic cows, quirky felt sheep, swirly wire baskets and vibrant beaded bags are some of the innovative crafts now on display at Hemingways Casino and Hotel, which has installed stylish cabinets to display the best of Eastern Cape art and crafts.
The pieces, many created by artists living in deep rural areas, can be found in the Eastern Cape Craft Collection shop in Nahoon, but now have the added benefit of being seen by Tsogo Sun guests.
“When we re-bid for our casino licence six years ago, part of our commitment was that we would give a platform to Eastern Cape rural artists and crafters,” said the casino’s corporate social responsibility committee member, Belinda MacDonald.
She got in touch with Eastern Cape Craft Collection project manager Marika Jacobs, who put forward the work of the seven crafters that now fills the custom-made cabinets in the hotel’s glamorous reception area, as well as The Venue@Hemingways foyer.
“A lot of conferencing happens here and this is where the footfall is,” said MacDonald.
“We have put out pamphlets and if anyone wants to buy the pieces they are directed to the shop in Old Transkei Road or people can phone the crafters themselves because their numbers are on the pamphlets.”
Jacobs, who curates the collection at the shop – which is supported by the ECDC and department of small business development – said the display cabinets gave much-needed extra exposure for the artists.
“This collaboration with Hemingways is great. It helps build our brand of high quality, unique, handmade products from the Eastern Cape.”
Project manager of the Nceduluntu Wesley Community Project Colette Tilley praised the initiative as an innovative marketing tool.
One of the sub-projects of Nceduluntu is Siyakhula Felters, a group of 10 women from the small village of Wesley who make endearing felt animals using merino, southdown and mohair wool.
“It is great to have the extra exposure, especially in such a sophisticated, upmarket environment.”
Other crafters in the six cabinets include Luyanda Mayekiso Ceramics from Auckland village, Iza Craft from East London, Ezolunthu Magay Trading and Amos Senzela Ceramics from Port Elizabeth, Lubiso Ceramics from Kenton and Mphuhliso Primary Cooperative, also from Kenton.
Hemingways general manager John McGregor said they planned to change the displays every quarter to showcase as many crafters as possible.