Sewing, a skill passed from mother to daughter for decades, has become a dying art in today’s throw-away culture, but a handful of Garden Route women are very successfully expressing their creativity in fabric and thread.

WORDS Janine Oelofse PHOTOGRAPHS Colin Stephenson & Raquel De Castro Maia/create photography

 Demitasse

At this year’s Kamersvol Geskenke expo at Lourensford in Somerset West, the demitasse stand was the place to be. Three friends, Alida Wilkin, Lindsay Bennett and Louise Leggatt – each entrepreneurs with their own label and successful in their own right – banded together to collaborate under the label “demitasse”, showcasing their shoes, clothing and handbags.

Alida owns Shweshwe handmade, a clothing company, while Lindsay owns Bennett & Co shoe company and Louise owns Gypsey Lou handbags.

The trio came upon the name “demitasse” after seeing the word during a business trip. It’s French for small coffee cups and means “half a cup”.

“Besides just liking the sound of the word, we liked the positive ‘glass half full’ idea attached to it as well as the significance of halfway marks in life in general.

“We each started our own businesses in the George and Wilderness area between five and eight years ago, and we ran them individually but when we met each other, we worked so well together. We coincidentally chose something that worked together, but it was more about the end product than the actual sewing,” says Alida.

How it started “We all felt we had natural creativity and the ability to run our own business, so we brought together those elements to find an outlet for our creative drive. We all started off small and sold our products on local markets in the area.”

Since those early days, the businesses have grown considerably, with each either owning their own small factory or outsourcing their work to a local factory.

“We are still all very hands on. We still all design products, source fabrics and play a role in the manufacturing side. We also market our own products and are involved in the retail and wholesale end.

“We pretty much do everything. The demitasse range is not designed to be a perfect match, but complimentary,” they say.

How the business progressed The trio is opening a shop in the Church Corner Building in Courtenay Street in George this month (December) that will double as both creative and retail space.

“We decided after the end of November last year that although we loved running our own businesses, it could be lonely. Now we have created an environment where we are with our friends and we can bounce ideas around,” says Lindsay.

The women say they value each other’s support and understand the demands of running their own show while still juggling the responsibilities of a family.

“In between coming up with new ranges, we still need to pack school lunch boxes and change the odd nappy!”

Where creative inspiration comes from Louise says they often draw inspiration from something they’ve seen, be it in colour, texture or just a feeling.

“We’ve always said that we’d only make things that we would want to buy for ourselves, so we try to create products that have a broad appeal while still using great quality fabrics, colours and textures.”

The women collaborate on themes, from suede handbags to vintage floral shoes and stunning outfits.

“It’s not a matchy-matchy thing, but we work around a complimentary look.”

How the business was set up The women say because they started off small and individual, by the time they got together for their collaboration, they were all running medium scale workshops.

“We grew year on year and learned as we went along, catering to a steady evolution of where the businesses were headed. By the time we got together, our teething problems were out of the way. We knew our way around design, patterning, manufacturing and marketing,” says Alida.

She said none studied in the fashion industry, but they just loved what they were doing.

Where to next Opening the new shop this month will be demitasse’s main focus, but the women say they soon want to create a web presence, selling online and via Facebook.

“We’re not trying to think too far ahead. We are just taking it one step at a time, which is important in this business. If you think 10 steps ahead, you get overwhelmed. We just tackle one issue at a time and once we’ve come to grips with it, we move on.”

Biggest Challenge Cash flow and bank balances were the biggest challenges. Keeping the businesses afloat and the creative and marketing momentum going was vital.

“It’s never a case that the business ticks along on its own. Every day we have to meet new challenges.”

Greatest Achievement All three women now take part in high end expo shows, and all have featured in a variety of magazines and television programmes.

But that aside, Alida says: “Our biggest compliment comes from women loving our product. You can see they get the same thrill out of it that we would get from buying something that grabs our attention.”

Advice to others Do not go into business with pre-conceived expectations. Take it one day at a time, move forward at a slow but steady rate and be content that life will unfold as it must.

 

Peg&Thread

Knysna entrepreneurs Nicola Reardon and Svelka Sharp have found a way to turn their passion for needle and thread into a business that offers customers a relaxing way to while away a Saturday afternoon while at the same time making a functional and beautiful keepsake.

How it started Following 10 years in the corporate world, Nicola felt the need for a change and decided to start her own business.

Nicola says she always loved fabrics, thread and being creative. The concept of teaching children to sew simple projects and encouraging people to be creative was hugely appealing to her.

“The chance came up for me to work with my close friend, Svelka, on the quality and design of the products,” Nicola says.

Svelka, who had 14 years experience in advertising and design, created a corporate identity for the new company and in November 2010, Peg & Thread was born.

How the business progressed They have expanded their product range from 12 to 21 sewing and knitting kits.

Each kit contains all the necessary equipment to complete the craft and includes a tape measure, fabrics, yarns, pins and needles, scissors, glue, stuffing, sequins, ribbon, and patterns as well as step by step instructions. A mini glossary of sewing, knitting and embroidery stitches is included in each kit to demonstrate how to create and decorate with stitching.

Where creative inspiration comes from They get their inspiration from reading books or craft magazines, or just sewing quietly. They also attend Embroidery Guild meetings.

“It’s important to take yourself off every now and again to feed your creative soul. Go for a lovely walk and be inspired by nature, attend designer shows, visit an art gallery or just watch the world go by!”

How the business was set up Svelka and Nicola enrolled at the Small Enterprise Development Agency, which helped them learn about exporting. They also attend expos to showcase their products.

Where to next Nicola and Svelka want to step up marketing and selling in order to establish a profitable and sustainable platform from which to keep up with demand. They also want to explore new opportunities and markets in Africa and other countries.

Biggest Challenge Marketing and advertising the business effectively, and ensuring sufficient finances to take the next step in their business, were big challenges.

Greatest Achievement “When our customers place repeat orders, we love this! Tapping into the corporate gifting market this year has been fantastic,” says Nicola.

Advice to others The first step is to create a company identity. “Your logo will form part of every bit of marketing you do. Spend time on it.”

Next, find magazines or publications that will suit your product and advertise.

The women also found having an online presence hugely rewarding.

 

Demitasse Alida: 072 542 6649 or [email protected] Louise: 072 427 4573 or [email protected] Lindsay: 082 525 2912 or [email protected] Peg & Thread www.pegandthread.co.za Working studio address: 5 Noble Street, Knysna Industria (Behind Whitewashed and opposite Fechters). Nicola: 083 265 7730 Svelka: 082 889 3522

 

An Oudtshoorn artist has taken recycling and the creation of environmental awareness to new heights with her unique eco-conscious children’s toys made from old inner tubes.

WORDS Janine Oelofse PHOTOGRAPHS Melanie Maré

Hannalie Taute says she gave birth to Lobotoy-me when she had to make a toy for her son’s first birthday because the family was in a tight financial spot. Shortly before the big date, she received a book as a gift by the artist Nicholas Hlobo, who works mainly with rubber inner tube.

“I thought it would be an amazing material to use. We had some financial difficulties because my husband started a career in ceramics after being in the construction industry for almost 10 years. Our son’s first birthday came up last September and at one year old it seems children don’t mind what present they get as long as it is wrapped. I decided to make him a toy from inner tubes. I cut the tubes into a shape and stuffed it with some of his old clothes. We called the toy ‘Oh Dear’, also known as ‘Binneband Bambi’.”

Hannalie says she fell in love with the medium, which is eco-conscious, non-toxic, durable and feels good. She decided to make a range of inner tube soft toys and soon created an elephant, a whale and a rhino. “I made some as gifts for friends and their kids, and after seeing the little ones appreciate them, I started selling them at flea markets. I decided that with every sale of the rhino toy, I would donate R10 to an anti-rhino poaching fund.

Hannalie, 34, who moved to Oudtshoorn from George in February this year, works from home so that she can take care of her sons Etienne, 4, and Stephan, 18 months. “I love to spend as much time with them as possible. We don’t have any regrets about the move since we live a much closer and richer family life.”

Hannalie’s artistic talents started to surface as a teenager. She loved the covers of music albums and often copied the drawings into her journals.

“After school I enrolled in art school to become a graphic designer on my father’s insistence since that is seen as a career, but after six months I changed my course to fine art and never told him.”

Hannalie was awarded a National Higher diploma in Fine art at the Port Elizabeth Technikon and spent a number of years working in the hospitality industry before fully committing to art in 2007. “The art world is full of circles. In some you are who you know. In others you are what you do. Currently I am standing with one foot in art and the other in craft, but it’s my bread and butter, for better or worse. I now consider myself a slightly mad scientist/artist and mother of two small boys who generates her ideas from the frontal cortex.”

She has since exhibited her work in Trent Read’s fine art gallery in Knysna in a show called Siembamba – the toys are us.

“It was my first big gallery show and I learned a lot. Before that, I exhibited on student shows and art festivals. I love exhibiting on festivals as I am more involved with the public and I can see first hand their response to my work.”

Hannalie’s first solo presentation was at the Joao Ferreira gallery in Cape Town with a show called Siembamba – let’s play pretend.

These days she is a familiar figure to about six local tyre manufacturers, collecting inner tubes that would normally be dumped as rubbish. “Now it’s called up-cycling,” she says. A local upholsterer’s off-cuts provide the stuffing for the toys, but the colourful cotton string for stitching and the cleaning agents have to be bought.

Hannalie cuts the inner tubes to patterns of her own design and sews the pieces together by hand before stuffing the toys and polishing them to glossy perfection.

Fifteen of Hannalie’s unique toys were displayed at the international COP17 green symposium in Durban last November as part of an exhibition by the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) called Noah’s Ark. Her toys were also included in the CCDI stand at Design Indaba earlier this year.

Most of her work is sold locally for between R150 to R180 per toy, but buyers from as far as the United States and Australia have shown an interest.

Hannalie’s exhibition at last year’s KKNK festival, which comprised various mixed media pieces, won her a spot in the semi-finals of the Fiesta Awards held in Cape Town in January. (A delegation from the awards committee travels to various arts festivals to find nominees.)

Hannalie says although Lobotoy-me is going better than expected, there have been more obstacles than she anticipated, including in production.

“I used to do everything by myself but later I trained ladies and some didn’t have enough interest to make a decent sellable toy. Other problems included cash flow, or not having the funds to pay the ladies who helped me make the toys.”

While Lobotoy-me is still fun, she says she misses drawing and working with paper and would like to work towards a new fine art exhibition.

“I find myself getting so wrapped up in daily life and responsibilities that I have to remind myself to play a little. The more I play the better I get at it, and I find myself feeling more and more creative.”

[email protected] www.lobotoy-me.blogspot.com where to buy Lobotoy-me

The toys are also for sale at Ebony – Franschhoek, Home Brews – Claremont, Spier Wine Estate – Stellenbosch, Moooi @ Jam Street Art Gallery & Gift shop – Oudtshoorn, Knysna Fine Art Museum, The gallery in Prince Albert and at the Outeniqua Farmer’s Market – George.

Award-winning photographer Peter Delaney pursues his new vocation with a passion which promises many more memorable wildlife pictures.

His stunning image of an elephant’s lower leg, simply entitled Big Foot, last year won the Wilderness resident the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Wildlife Photography Award in the category “Nature in Black and White”.

The BBC competition, with seven categories, in 2011 attracted 41 000 entries from 95 countries and is considered to be the premier showcase of wildlife photography in the world.

As Peter sat at the Champagne reception of the awards ceremony in the magnificent Natural History Museum in London, he thought of the thousands of miles he had travelled through Africa and of the many days and months spent in pursuit of that one special photograph. He vividly remembered the Kalahari desert and the searing heat of the sun beating down with ferocious intensity, he recollected a herd of wildebeest enveloped in a cloud of dust cantering across the Etosha Pan in Namibia, he savoured some of his close encounters with the animals of the wild, but mostly he dwelt upon the magic of the photographic image.

Peter Delaney has been a keen photographer all his life, but only in recent years has he been able to devote time and energy to his abiding passion. For fourteen years Peter worked as a money broker in the financial districts of London and Tokyo, immersed in the frenetic whirl of banking finance. But even during this time he found time to practise “street photography”, attend photography classes in the evenings and obtain qualifications at advanced level from the General Certificate of Education and with the highly regarded City and Guilds courses.

Eventually, Peter decided that he had to move on from the cut and thrust of the money markets and he headed for Africa, a continent that had always held a unique fascination for him. He arrived in Durban in 2001 and kitted himself out with an overland vehicle, a tent and other camping requisites in preparation for extensive travels through Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Uganda.

“I rejoiced at all that I saw. I loved the landscape and the abundance of wildlife and it was then that I decided to move on to a different genre.” He duly invested in a few long lenses and other specialist camera equipment specifically required for shooting animals in their natural habitat.

Peter has a special affinity for deserts and big horizons. “I love the open spaces of Namibia and the Kalahari. One can capture such evocative images in these places.” When out on a photo shoot, he is absorbed utterly and entirely with the task at hand. “When I am photographing, I go into a different zone and I seek to produce the best possible image both technically and creatively. Technical finesse comes from the brain and creativity from the heart – the combination of the two requires the utmost concentration”.

More than anything else, Peter Delaney thoroughly enjoys photographing wildlife. “I live and breathe photography and I love what I am doing. It’s all that I want to do until the day I die. I am not engaged with photography for financial gain, I do it because I enjoy it”. Notwithstanding an almost evangelical fervour towards his chosen mode of artistic expression, Peter’s large size wildlife photographs command top dollar prices internationally;  in the United States a 1m x 1,2m wildlife photograph by Peter Delaney can fetch up to R20 000.

Besides traversing many miles of Africa surveying and photographing its wondrous animals, Peter has had a number of experiences that have brought him up close and personal with wild creatures. On one occasion whilst photographing a male lion in a river bed at Madikwe in North West province, the king of the jungle walked over to the open four wheel drive from which Peter was photographing and suddenly leapt up to crouch beside the intrepid photographer. On another excursion, a leopard in the Kalahari decided to bond with Peter and spent a night resting up, more inside than outside his tent. On both occasions man and beast parted on the best of terms, as if these two leviathans of the wild sensed instinctively that Peter had only their best interests at heart.

Having won one of the most prestigious wildlife photography competitions in the world, Peter is intent on anything but resting on his laurels. “I still have along way to go,” he says. “In photography you learn something new every day and the lure of the African landscape beckons. We all need ways in which to express ourselves and photography has become my means of communication”.

A selection of the winning entries in the BBC Wildlife Photography Awards 2011, including Peter Delaney’s Big Foot, is on display at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town until March 13. In the Garden Route the photographs of Peter Delaney can be viewed at Savannah Café in Knysna, at Urban Jungle in Wilderness and at Meade Café in George.

www.peterdelaney.co.za 082 341 1601

 

The beautiful surrounds of the Garden Route have long been the home of creative personalities, including a number of authors in a variety of genres.

Mari Roberts

Romance writer Mari Roberts writes under a pseudonym for the sakes of her farmer husband and three school-going daughters. But it’s been an open secret for a long time in the small Karatara farming community outside Sedgefield, where many a local have wondered about Mari’s inspiration for the saucy love tales that flow from her laptop. Describing herself as an incurable romantic in a happy marriage, Mari, like most authors, has been writing for as long as she can remember.

Initially she dabbled in short story writing, but couldn’t get any published. A qualified social worker who traded her job for mothering, Mari decided to try her hand at romance novels. Although her first attempt was well received at first read, the publisher did not take it on. “In retrospect, the content was way too serious for the genre, but I only found that out after getting some help from author Chanette Paul, who at the time was giving writing courses.” She sent Chanette a copy of one of her manuscripts, and received a 17-page feedback report in return pointing out mostly technical mistakes.

“The romance genre in South Africa is written according to strict rules, with specific word counts and limitations. It is meant to be escapism and the content can’t be too serious or intimidating to the reader. While every book does not have to contain detailed sex scenes, the lovers must at least kiss passionately – which is much more difficult to write than you may imagine,” Mari says with a laugh.

Dans in die reën was accepted by Lapa and published in September 2006 and, after a quick rewrite of her first attempt, Sprokiesprinses appeared a month later. From 2007 to 2009 she published another five titles, of which Sterrereën was at the top of the romance fiction sellers lists for two weeks in 2009.

Mari took a break from writing when the demands of motherhood and a farm suffering through the worst drought in the Southern Cape’s history took its toll on her creativity. But now she is back with her latest romance, Liefdesdroom, which was launched March.

“Writing is a lonely job and requires many hours of just sitting and writing. I do it because it is my passion and I love telling a story. I find every part interesting, from observing people and listening to their stories to background research and putting it all together. There is something tremendously satisfying in seeing a completed book in print.

“However, writers have to learn to not take things personally when their drafts are returned with instructions to rewrite – most people don’t like to be edited, but it is a give-and-take process and publishers have the end product in mind, which has to sell.

“Writing is my escape. In my books the people do what I want them to do and characters can be explored at will. While I certainly don’t make a spectacular income from my efforts, it is a hugely rewarding hobby.”

www.lapa.co.za

James Fouché

James Fouché of George pays the bills by offering financial advice, but his first love is writing. He has published short stories and poetry for some time, but recently bit the bullet and took a year off work to write his first crime fiction novel, Jack Hanger. He offered the manuscript to several publishers around the world until Raider Publishing in New York published his book in March last year.

While the overseas connection means his book gets international exposure, the arrangement is complicated by import and administration costs in South Africa. “Fortunately, the days are gone in which authors had to rely on book shops alone to sell their stories. Internet sites such as Kalahari.com are excellent ways to get a book out there at competitive rates.

James is now working on his second crime novel, this time on a part time basis.

“The recurring question is always: why put so much time and effort into something that may be turned down or edited beyond recognition and which doesn’t really pay that much?

“I guess the answer is the same for everyone – passion. I can’t really help myself, I love telling stories, doing the research, developing characters and then turning it into something that someone else may like to read.

“To all those authors out there, I say: ‘Sit down and complete that story. Sometimes success lies in just finishing something.’”

www.jackhanger.com

Chris Karsten

Arguably the most successful author to come out of these parts is multiple award-winning writer Chris Karsten, who not only has some 18 Afrikaans and English titles under his belt and another two on the way, he also has a movie deal in his pocket.

The former senior deputy editor and Garden Route bureau chief of Sunday newspaper, Rapport, has done the bulk of his book writing since his arrival in George in 2004, including the award-winning historical novel Frats, a six-part true crime series, a biography of actress Charlize Theron and two parts of a trilogy about a serial killer who harvests his victims’ tattoos.

The first in the series, Abel se ontwaking, published in 2010, won two coveted Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging (ATKV) prizes last year and will be published in English in September, around the time that filming will commence on a movie with the same title. The last in the series, Die afreis van Abel Lotz, will hit the bookshelves in August. The final in the trilogy was written in Canada, where Chris now lives.

Frats was written while Chris was still working at Rapport and arrived at publishers Human & Rousseau just as a non-fiction writer was being sought for the true crime series. His newspaper background and captivating writing style was a perfect fit for the job.

But there are factual limitations to non-fiction, and he wanted to explore the human side of criminals and their motivation for aggression in fictional terms. Cleverly written and well-researched, his thrillers fell on fertile soil and continue to impress.

“Writing is an all-encompassing thing for me. I dream of my characters at night, wake up with their words in my head and their actions can haunt me until the last word is written.

“Being a writer is a very vulnerable position to be in – you offer the work of your soul up for criticism. I had to learn which criticism to take seriously and which to ignore.

“It is also not easy for a new writer to get a foot in the door, but the good news is that publishing houses are always looking for new writers, and it’s always worth a try.”

www.humanrousseau.com/authors/257

Other Garden Route authors include:

  • Anoeschka von Meck is the award-winning author of three Afrikaans books, most notably Vaselinetjie, which has also been translated into English. Essie Honiball – Die Ontwaking came out in 2010, the same year she moved to Knysna. www.benedic.net
  • Internationally acclaimed embroiderer Lesley Turpin-Delport, based in Knysna, has published eight full-colour hardcover and a few soft cover drawing books in her field of expertise. Just Stitch, published in 2007 and re-launched recently under the title Embroidered Flora & Fauna, was the first in conjunction with her daughter Nikki Delport-Wepener and has been translated into French. www.les-designs.com
  • Wildlife researcher Gareth Patterson, also from Knysna, has published nine titles about his research on lions and elephants. The second print run of The Secret Elephants came out in June last year. He is currently busy with his autobiography. www.garethpatterson.com
  • Knysna writer Stanley Trollip is the co-author of the award-winning Detective Kubu novels with Johannesburg-based Michael Sears. Their third book, Death of the Mantis, has been nominated for several overseas fiction awards. www.detectivekubu.com
  • Bev Moodie, based in Knysna, has written and self-published several entrepreneurial handbooks and owns Business Opportunity Books, which markets business-related handbooks online. Her first book, Entrepreneurship made Easy, has sold 16000 copies. www.business-opportunity-books.co.za
  • Trees of the Garden Route – Mossel Bay to Storms River was launched in November 2011 by Elna Venter from Mossel Bay. 083 653 0013
  • Paul Nel of Knysna is the author of a 900-page historical novel The Law of Douglas van Yssen.
  • Plettenberg Bay artist June Morris has written and illustrated a children’s book titled Cathy finds a home.
  • Arn Allingham is the author of The Ascension Papers. www.zingdad.com
  • Knysna-based Jeanne Bredenkamp turned the basic story idea of Chris Smith of Mossel Bay into Mis oor Victoriabaai, a love story which was published in September 2011. Her first children’s book, My boet Jan, will be published later this year.
  • Garden Route top chefs Liezie Mulder, Geoffrey Murray and François Ferreira have all published cookbooks.

 

Knysna Literary Festival

The third annual Knysna Literary Festival takes place in venues around the lagoon town on April 27 to 29. Writers’ workshops, a literary lounge, children’s poetry and creative writing competitions, a movie festival of authors and children’s theatre will combine with an array of interesting speakers to promote reading and writing among locals and visitors. Authors and storytellers who will share their experiences and present workshops include well-known crime writers Mandy Wiener (Killing Kebble), Margie Orford (Gallows Hill) and Mike Nicol (Black Heart), as well as Anglo-Zulu War storyteller Stanley Trollip, co-writer of the internationally acclaimed Detective Kubu-books. www.knysnaliteraryfestival.co.za

 

Local publishers include:

  • Real Dream Publishing in Mossel Bay assists aspiring writers in getting published and marketed. They offer services such as ghost writing, translation, editing, cover design, ISBN-registration and more. www.realdreampublishing.co.za
  • Hornbill Productions is the George-based family publishing business of former Rapport and The Citizen journalists André and Ronel Venter, their son Ben and his fiancée Teresa Smith. Their products include books about herbs, old motor cars and a series of sell-out colouring books. 044 871 3730

The Garden Route is increasingly becoming home to people who mesh artistic talent with entrepreneurial skills.

There can be no finer example of this new wave of creative release than Nic Kruger of Knysna, who fashions furniture out of wood salvaged from ships that foundered along the coast. The wood from such wrecks is typically African hardwood, Oregon pine and mahogany and is generally well preserved. Nic saw a window of opportunity when he was offered timber reclaimed from the wreck of a trawler in Port Elizabeth harbour. “Boats and ships built from wood in South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s are now coming to the end of their working life. New vessels are fabricated from steel. I have been able to acquire the wood from shipwrecks and turn the timber into quality furniture.”

When starting out on the fabrication of furniture from shipwrecked wood, all the square shank nails have to be painstakingly removed by way of hammering, chiselling and drilling. This process leaves the timber adorned with nail holes, rust patterns, bitumen and other marks caused by a life at sea, and the finished product is often left that way, sometime even with paint splatters. “We preserve the original character of the wood,” says Nic. His business is rather charmingly called Shipwreck Furniture and he makes coffee tables, dining room tables, servers, side tables, headboards, benches, frames, bookshelves and chests of drawers. Everything is constructed out of recycled wood and on occasion the timber from scaffolding and pallets is used, but no newly processed wood is put into the furniture. “We take other people’s trash and give it a second life” says Nic. The coffee tables feature an abstract pattern of pieces of wood painted in different colours and are works of art in their own right.

The products of Shipwreck Furniture can be seen at fFiago in Knysna, Hullabaloo in Port Elizabeth and at Object Furniture in Mossel Bay.

Donatella Pontesilli in George has established a niche for herself in the fabrication of custom designed chandeliers. Donatella, of Italian extraction, studied fine art and textile design at the Cape Technical College and the Cape Technikon and has a personality that effervesces with creative ingenuity. She bubbles over with ideas, design-speak and thoughts for new motifs. “I have always had a creative streak,” she enthuses. “At school my geography and history textbooks were filled with patterns, doodles and sketches and even when I went to the beach with friends I would sit drawing on a sketchpad.” For 14 years Donatella worked in a whirl of painting, interior decorating and jewellery manufacture. Until three years ago, when a friend asked her to make a chandelier. Since then she has been given one commission after another, making chandeliers to suit particular settings. “I use crystal, glass, pearls, semi-precious stones and even nuts and bolts and cuff links on one occasion. I work in a combination of colour, material and style that ranges from traditional to modern, such that each chandelier is unique.” Clients give Donatella the style and colour scheme that they want and she then works out a design that is presented with photographs and a quotation. Orders have come in from across South Africa and from international destinations as far afield as New York. Recommendations by word of mouth bring in new business and many orders come through Donatella’s website. “My designs are specialised and exclusive. None of my work is mass produced.” Donatella’s inspiration comes from her interests in cooking and gardening as well as her love of animals, coastal scenery and music. “I’m into everything that sparkles and shines,” she says, and it shows in her chandeliers which reflect, refract and rework light into a kaleidoscope of colour and contrast.

Also based in George is Hendrik Carsten of Grog Studio, located in the heart of the town adjacent to the Strydom Gallery in Market Street. Hendrik studied art for three years, and following a ten year stint in the construction industry as a technician, he returned to his first love of ceramics. “It has always been my intention to go into art. I have had a passion for ceramics since my earliest years.”

Hendrik makes up his own clay and adds talc and crushed, pre-fired clay or grog. Manganese dioxide, iron oxide and salts of cobalt and cadmium are used as colourants and firing is done between 1000 and 1120˚C in an oxidizing atmosphere. Grog Studio produces a diverse mix of jugs, teapots, mugs, flower pots, vases, planters and urns. Hendrik is working on a “designer series” of tableware that is pleasing to the eye, but which requires considerable time and skill in the making. His work was featured in a ceramics festival in Franschhoek during October and can be viewed at Knysna Fine Art and at his studio in George.

DP Ferreira and Hannes Stander specialise in floral art and work from a 1,7 hectare farm in Rheenendal near Knysna. The floral designs of their Ecozest venture are much in demand. The partners are well qualified for their chosen field – DP has a diploma in Fine Art and Hannes a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture. They work only with indigenous flora and grow many species on their farm, mostly varieties of Cape everlasting, succulents and fynbos as well as species of buddleja and plectranthus, waterblommetjies (Cape pondweed), the confetti tree, the Natal bottlebrush and klapperbos. The floral designs of Ecozest are augmented with pieces of driftwood, beach pebbles, lichen, bark, moss, sedges, restios and reeds to produce stunning displays. “We work in a manner that is gentle on the land and connected with the environment,” says DP. In this spirit, Ecozest has had great success with a fynbos Christmas tree developed specifically for the South African market. The tree is made from fynbos and Helichrysum and adorned with shells and grasses. The same materials are used to make wreaths and garlands for the festive season. “The pine tree comes from the northern hemisphere and is not really appropriate to the celebration of yuletide in South Africa. We wanted to make a festive tree that related to local conditions,” says Hannes. Their fynbos trees range in size from 30cm to 1,8m and the exclusive Kurland Hotel in Plettenberg Bay always puts three on display over the Christmas season. The work of Ecozest can be seen every Saturday morning at the Wild Oats Market in Sedgefield. DP and Hannes also conduct two-day workshops on floral design and gardening at their farm, with overnight accommodation provided in delightful rustic cottages.

Two of the most successful artistically minded entrepreneurs of the Garden Route are Carla and Neels Engelbrecht of La Carla Atelier, 6km from Plettenberg Bay at Holt Hill. Carla and Neels have developed a market for handcrafted Venetian masks that have become all the rage at corporate events, launch functions for new products, weddings and social gatherings. Carla started making papier mâché masks as a hobby in 2006, and when someone ordered 100, the idea for the business took hold. Today La Carla Atelier distributes about 1000 masks per month to both local and foreign customers.

“Masks have an illustrious history but there is always scope for new ideas and different applications,” says Carla. “We recently developed a small mask to fit around the neck of a bottle and subsequently 5000 were ordered for the launch of a new wine. Masks have been around for several centuries and we believe the potential is unlimited, so long as we continue to push and extend our creativity.”

The masks of La Carla Atelier can seen at La Chique Boutique in the Vaal Park Mall in Vereeniging, the Boutique Shop in Pezula Resort Hotel, Knysna and in Plettenberg Bay at their place of work, which is signposted from the N2 highway, by appointment with Charnelle on 072 445 6697.

Cottage industries tend to promote their merchandise on websites, since the cost of renting retail premises and advertising can be prohibitive. Haus Muti manages a collection of web pages covering eight design categories, representing forty practitioners of the arts. The disciplines of fine art, jewellery, sculpture, ceramics, photography, furnishings, mosaics and homeware are collated into galleries of high quality images that can be browsed online. The site was the idea of Delia Johnson, who trained as an interior designer at Design Town in Cape Town and now lives in Plettenberg Bay. After attending an exhibition of the work of 32 different artists in Bitou in 2008, Johnson realised that “there was a need for creative people on the Garden Route to have a voice”.

The saying ars longa, vita brevis tell us that art is long and life is short – for those of artistic persuasion along the Garden Route, the future beckons.

 

Contact

Shipwreck Furniture

www.shipwreckfurniture.co.za

[email protected]

073 258 7800

 

Donatella Pontesilli

www.donatella.co.za

[email protected]

044 877 0581

072 283 1182

 

Grog Studio

www.grogstudio.wordpress.com

[email protected]

072 044 1153

 

Ecozest

www.ecozest.co.za

[email protected]

044 389 0083

 

La Carla Atelier

www.modelvision.co.za

[email protected]

082 499 6295

082 461 7731

 

Haus Muti

www.hausmuti.co.za

[email protected]

044 533 9079

072 222 1020

 

 

Calitzdorp has established itself as a haven for art and nature lovers alike.

Calitzdorp is a Klein Karoo town of striking scenery 50km west of Oudtshoorn along the R62. It prides itself on a growing reputation on many counts, not the least of which is a thriving viticulture industry and the production of fine port wine in particular, but also as inspiration for and focal point of artistic endeavour.

“Life is more civil here,” says Hylton Nel, a lifelong practitioner of the arts and present day doyen of the art scene in South Africa. He is talking about Calitzdorp, where he has lived for nine and a half years.

Nel is revered in the Calitzdorp arts community. He has his studio in an ordinary shed embellished with the name Wesoewer – a more unassuming place of work for one of the very pillars of South African art would be hard to imagine, but therein lies the key to much of his phenomenal success. Nel, who turns 70 this year, completed his studies in fine art at Rhodes University and in Belgium in the early sixties. Since then he has been actively involved with the world of fine art by way of teaching at centres of tertiary education, trading in antiques, drawing and painting and producing ceramics.

Over the past 40 years, Nel has created ceramics of function and form encompassing plates, bowls, vases, plaques and figurative studies. His work is decorated with an eclectic mix of drawings, paintings and script and his imagery ranges from cats, angels and the human form to flowers, abstract shapes and patterns. In spite of his esteemed reputation, Hylton is utterly without airs or graces and is entirely taken up with his work.

“Ceramics continue to fascinate me,” says Nel, who scoffs at any suggestion of retirement. His house is crammed with books, the work of other artists, rocks, water worn pebbles, memorabilia, antiques and artefacts. In conversation, Nel is charm itself. He discourses on matters such as the merits of Chinese porcelain, the combination of parameters that can be used in firing ceramics, and the qualities of natural stone and raw clay. In typical self effacing manner, Nel says of his work: “It’s like making little imprints of hands on the walls of a cave and long after the people have gone, the little hands will still there be there”.

Two books about the art of Hylton Nel have been compiled by Michael Stevenson – one in 2003 simply entitled Hylton Nel, and the other in 2010 called Hylton Nel – A Curious World.

Not content with practising only his own art, Nel has devoted time and energy to the development of a protégé, Nico Masemolo. The two men met in Bethuli in the Free State and Nel immediately recognized Masemolo’s ability to work with the materials of the ceramicist. “Nico is a natural, and he continues to go from strength to strength,” enthuses Nel. Masemolo draws his inspiration from biblical figures and animals, enjoys soccer, and likes the music of Freshlyground and The Soweto String Quartet. It normally takes Masemolo a day to make a piece. “I like to work with clay that is wet and slippery,” he says.

Another resident of Calitzdorp engaged with the arts is Judy Bumstead. From Bumstead’s studio atop a promontory outside the town, one looks over a foreground of veld and a patchwork of vineyards to the distant Gamkaberg, invariably capped with a bank of cloud. The view is as rich and varied as the work of the artist. Bumstead is passionate about the flora of the Klein Karoo and her paintings of subjects such as aloes and the apron of veld that reaches to her doorstep are quite magical. “I came to the Klein Karoo in search of a greener life,” enthuses Judy.

At the Marinda Combrinck Studio and Gallery, in the centre of the town, Combrinck paints with studied concentration throughout the day. She has lived in Calitzdorp for eight years. “I don’t think I will ever have enough time to paint everything I would like to – I find it inspiring to be here and to interact with nature.”

Other artists of note in Calitzdorp and surrounds are Penny Rudder, Stephen Allwright, Emily Fellows, Henry Prins, Peter Wooldridge and Joshua Miles.

 

Calitzdorp Country House

Find quality accommodation at Calitzdorp Country House, a delightful retreat designed and furnished by Allan and Lyn Fabig. The venue has a splendid outlook over orchards and vineyards to the jagged pinnacles of the Swartberg. The five bedrooms, lounge and dining areas are beautifully decorated with antiques, original works of art, Persian rugs and fabrics. Each bedroom has its own private patio, garden and fountain and an en-suite bathroom fitted with shower, twin washbasins and an outsize bath. Air conditioning runs throughout the building. There is a gazebo, a veranda and a swimming pool, as well as a paved courtyard used for alfresco dining on summer evenings. The fine cuisine of Calitzdorp Country House is complemented by a well stocked wine cellar. Comfort and good living are the buzz words at Calitzdorp Country House and the Fabigs are the most affable of hosts.

 

Places of interest in Calitzdorp

Derek McKenzie’s photographic workshop in the Old Post Office, where he prints black and white photographs using traditional dark room methods.

Die Handelshuis, an eatery full of character run by Tracy Farrel and Peter Erasmus.

The magnificent building of the Dutch Reformed Church, where the resident organist Noel-Jean Creil performs a 45-minute recital at 6pm, every day of the week.

The gallery and workshop of furniture maker Roger Young, who makes furniture to order, displays photographs and runs photographic workshops four times a year with internationally renowned photographer Trevor Samson.

 

Red Stone Hills Farm

From the Gamkaberg, one may drive to Calitzdorp by way of a concrete road that takes one through scenes of pastoral beauty and delightful cameos of farm life. For experience of a working farm, one can do no better than stay at Red Stone Hills Farm, which takes its name from the surrounding topography of carmine red Enon conglomerate, offering the spectacular scenery of a unique geological landscape. Farm owners Hermanus and Petro Potgieter are the very essence of courtesy, willing to help and provide information about the area. Accommodation is in eight quaint cottages built between 1875 and 1951 and fitted with modern appliances. Self catering is very much the order of the day. Although meals can be ordered, it is more fun to cook over the original open hearth fires. The farm keeps cattle, sheep and ostriches and activities include tractor tours, hiking, horse riding and bird watching. Many Bushman paintings can be views beneath cliff overhangs and in caves. Red Stone Hills is a birding hotspot with 210 species identified to date, many of them rare or endangered. The diversity of the vegetation and the sheer rock faces of the hills, interspersed with gullies and watercourses, provide a range of habitats for birds of prey, water birds and smaller species such as larks and prinias.

 

Contacts 

Calitzdorp Country House Calitz Street, Calitzdorp. 044 213 3760 www.cchouse.co.za

Derek McKenzie The Old Post Office, Calitzdorp. 082 649 4919 www.derekmckenzie.co.za

Gamkaberg Nature Reserve Gamkaberg Conservation Area. Enquiries: Tom Barry, conservation manager. 044 213 3367 [email protected] www.capenature.co.za and click on “Gamkaberg Nature Reserve”.

Hylton Nel Wesoewer, Calitzdorp. 044 213 3899

Judy Bumstead Hennie Cloete Tuin, Calitzdorp. 044 213 3181 [email protected] Judy Bumstead’s art can be viewed at www.artkaroo.co.za

Marinda Combrinck Marinda Combrinck Studio and Gallery, Calitzdorp. 044 213 3602 or 079 968 1588 Facebook site: Marinda Combrinck Art

Red Stone Hills Farm Red Stone Hills, near Calitzdorp. 044 213 3291 www.redstone.co.za

Roger Young Kruisrivier Art Gallery, Kruisrivier. 044 213 3296

 

Gamkaberg Nature Reserve

The Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, founded in 1974 to preserve a small remnant herd of Cape Mountain Zebra, is located 32km outside Calitzdorp. The 9400 hectare reserve is part of the Gamkaberg Conservation Area and offers affordable exclusivity for visitors in its secluded yet well appointed huts and tents. A selection of hikes includes the 24km Tierkloof Trail that runs through a spectacular ravine to the top of the Gamka mountains, where hikers overnight in a stone shelter. The Gamkaberg are composed of Table Mountain quartzite that outcrops as sculptural massifs, bedecked with the hues of lichen and vegetation. There are 30 species of mammals in the reserve, including antelope and leopard, and a wide variety of birds, reptiles, insects and flora. At least 20 rock art sites have been recorded in the reserve. Says conservation manager Tom Barry: “The attraction of Gamkaberg is the peace and quiet offered in one of the most species rich environments on earth.” Barry’s wife Lisl paints the landscapes and people of the Klein Karoo with passion and empathy. “I am inspired by my surroundings and the effect of the light,” she says.

 

 

The arresting paintings of Brad Gray require concentration on the part of the beholder. An artist of the world, he has made Wilderness his home whilst maintaining contact with the international art market.

WORDS Timothy Twidle PHOTOGRAPHS Kevin Factor

Brad Gray knows no boundaries. His is art that effortlessly crosses national borders. Recently Gray entered a painting entitled Discussing the Big Bang on a Plain in the prestigious Charlatan Ink Art Prize in New York, and among the many hundreds of works entered, it reached the semi-finals.

Gray is the thinking person’s artist.. His paintings are the subject of considerable thought, even before so much as a brush is put to canvas. Execution of a work is equally thorough and may take anything from six days to six weeks to complete. His work is filled with allegory and the symbolism is not dissimilar to the imagery employed by the great Belgian surrealist René Magritte. The umber substrate on which Gray builds a painting is evocative of Diego Velázquez, and his bold use of chiaroscuro is drawn from an admiration for the work of Michelangelo Caravaggio. The disparate images in Gray’s paintings are arranged into a precise matrix of composition, a subject that he studied intensively for three years.

Gray was born in Germany, the son of an officer serving in the British Army on the Rhine, and after a spell in the Royal Marines he studied at an art college in Bristol, England. He then spent six years as a professional illustrator for big names such as EMI and Harper Collins before moving to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, where he taught art for five years. During his time in the Middle East, Gray travelled extensively to countries such as Ethiopia, Yemen and Vietnam and other destinations off the beaten track. After Saudi, Brad and his wife Elaine considered several countries where they might settle, including France, India and Tanzania, before deciding on Wilderness in the heart of the Garden Route.

“We came on an exploratory visit in 2002, saw Wilderness and liked it straightaway,” Gray explains. Home is now a lovely cottage style house with walls bedecked in lemon yellow overlapping slats and a roof of viridian green, set on half a hectare of lawn, shrubs and trees. At the bottom of the garden Gray has a custom built studio which matches the style and colours of the house. The property, amidst untrammelled nature, generates a lovely, peaceful ambiance well disposed to the creation of fine art.

Gray paints for anything up to ten hours at a stretch, six days a week. Whenever he puts paint on a brush, it is always to music: “I play the albums of System of a Dawn, Tool, Pavement, Modest Mouse and Wedding Present,” he says. As to the formative influences of his work, Gray often draws upon topical events, or alternatively the painting makes a statement about some aspect of life, always allegorically. Gray’s paintings demand that the viewer both look and think.

“Not every piece follows a thread, and if it does, I am not always sure what that thread is. My work often involves playing with themes that evolve from the parallels and contradictions within us; the dark and light of existence, peace and violence, chaos and calm. I enjoy playing with words and sometimes weave humour through the narrative to convey the absurdity of a situation. My paintings range from small atmospheric oils to large, more involved, complex compositions. The smaller works focus primarily on texture, creating mood and movement through the use of strong tonal range and loose brushstrokes. The larger works are often theatrical in nature, depicting an array of quirky characters thrown together in a world not entirely of our own but with references to it.”

Gray’s wide travel experience is reflected in his paintings and his imagery is enhanced by a range of techniques that are all his own. He often dabs tissue paper and polyvinyl acetate (PVA) on to the surface of the canvas to create texture and an underlying construction. The foundation of a painting is built up with a brown based mix of hues and worked intensively with a palette knife. Sandpaper may be used to smooth back some of the texture, that is then given depth with the application of multiple glazes. Gray also employs impasto (thick application of paint), scumbling (working an opaque layer of paint over another colour to give an uneven, broken effect), and at times will apply loose, drippy paint.

Gray continues to enter many art competitions, both in South Africa and internationally. Aside from being a Sanlam Vuleka Award finalist twice as well as a Sasol New Signatures finalist, Gray was one of 400 artists short-listed from 10,000 entrants for the ‘Not the Turner Prize’ in 2003, where his painting was one of only 12 works sold.

He draws inspiration from everyday life, the colour schemes of nature and chance encounters with people of unusual backgrounds. “My work does not feature modern things. Each painting is an organic process, infused with something natural. I’m not into sharp edges and straight lines. I’m more into soft edges and broken lines. The image comes out of the paint”.

The imagery is powerful enough to stop anyone in their tracks and to make them ponder, reflect and take note. To be sure, Brad Gray is an artist of immense creative talent and his work is destined to continue to be admired and sought after.

www.bradgray.co.za

 

Using the materials of nature, land art tells us about life, the planet we live on and the power of natural forces. Now, it’s also available in your neighbourhood.

WORDS Timothy Twidle PHOTOGRAPHS Strijdom van der Merwe

The latent messages of land art are that we give greater reverence to the world around us, that we respect the finite resources of nature, and above all that we start to appreciate the power, the majesty and the great beauty of landforms.

This unusual form of creativity is coming to Plettenberg Bay in a big way with the launch of what has been billed as the first international land art happening in South Africa. Eight years ago, a team from the University of South Africa placed a mermaid made from natural materials in the Keurbooms River lagoon, but a much bigger project was planned for Plett in May. (Ed: visit www.southmagazine.co.za and our Facebook group for updates.)

The project is led by Site Specific, a non-profit organization that advances the merits of land art to make people more aware of South Africa’s biodiversity and natural wealth.

Land art should also be seen in the wider context of promoting the country’s rich artistic and cultural heritage and an art form to be developed as a niche tourist product. Art, culture and ecotourism have the potential to become big money earners and create employment.

The event promised to be a seminal milestone in the development of land art in South Africa. About 30 artists were to take part, including Strijdom van der Merwe, South Africa’s foremost land artist, as well as Gabriele Meneguzzi and Vincent Sponga from Italy and Urs Twellmann from Switzerland.

Meneguzzi and Sponga are well known as the founders of the Land Art Humus Park in Pordenone, while Twellmann’s work is world renowned.

The programme was to include community workshops, talks on environmental awareness, educational sessions at schools and discussions on the tourism potential of land art. The Bitou 10 Foundation, that seeks to improve the quality of education in the area, the communities of KwaNokuthula and New Horizons, and the stonemasons of the Griqua village of Kranshoek, were all to play an active role. Bitou town council has given its full backing to the project, including the creation of a Land Art Trail from Plettenberg Bay town centre, down a forest walk to the Piesang River and then on to Central beach, concluding at the Old Timber Shed, a historical monument in the vicinity of Lookout Rocks.

There will be guided tours for the public and a report back on the event to the media and the community at large.

South Africa is fast becoming a destination for land artists of international repute. Earlier this year English artist Richard Long concluded a residency at the Nirox Foundation near the Cradle of Humankind in Gauteng, and recently Andy Goldsworthy, an internationally well known land artist, created an artwork in the Paarl valley.

Strijdom van der Merwe describes land art as an exercise in using nature as the language of art. “Art has always had a part to play in providing comment and analysis of the human condition, but I believe that never before has artistic expression had such an important role as it has now. Increasingly we are realizing how vital it is for man to co-exist with nature in a responsible manner. In land art we engage with nature by using the materials found on site, arranging them into geometrical patterns and forms that are not only pleasing to the eye but which also make us more aware of the fragility and beauty of the changing cycles of the natural world.”

Websites and contacts

The Plettenberg Bay land art event: http://sitespecific.org.za or call Heather Greig on 083 736 3979 or write to [email protected]

Urs Twellmann: www.twellmann.ch

Strijdom van der Merwe: www.strijdom.co.za

Examples of landart: www.greenmuseum.org

Land art abroad

Land art is practised in many countries around the world, particularly in North America, Europe and the Far East. Land art may or may not be permanent and is commonly displayed in the form of sculpture trails, but not all of these qualify as true land art because non-organic or processed materials have been used to create the artworks. One of the best known sculpture trails is in the Forest of Dean in England.

 

Meet the fashionistas of the Garden Route. Some were born and bred in the region but have been lured to the city. Others migrated south and are making a name from here. They are the ones who design the ranges you’ll most want to buy this season.

WORDS Circa Smith PHOTOGRAPHS Fritz Schultz, Motion Pixel, Raquel de Castro Maia & Colin Stephenson

 

Stephanie Beyers and Dieter van den Berg: SILVER SPOON

After cutting her business teeth at Riana B’s, her mum’s interior design business in Plettenberg Bay, Stephanie Beyers launched the Silver Spoon clothing range in 2008. The former Wittedrift High student is now based in Port Elizabeth, where she qualified in Fashion Design before doing her Honours at NMMU in George.

Silver Spoon is just as much the brainchild of Stephanie’s partner Dieter van den Bergh, and a direct result of their mutual love of beautiful things. The label is a place for them to channel everything they’ve learnt. The pieces are functional with character – things you could wear to the market, to the park or on a visit to your distant aunt for a cuppa. It’s you, with a touch of thread and fabric thrown in for good measure.

The pair recently won a 2010 International Marie Claire Prix d’Excellence de la Mode Award, which salutes the best in local and international fashion design. Silver Spoon walked away with the Business Savvy Award for an emerging fashion designer who has a feasible design business. With this in hand, they now have free ‘membership’ to the ‘Proudly South African’ label too.

Having first exhibited at SA Fashion Week in September 2009, Silver Spoon was invited to show at both this year’s events to great acclaim. Their order book is bulging and the seamstresses in their factory are going hell for leather – this label has stepped up to a whole new league this year.

The range is folksy, quirky and innocent with a bit of a ‘country’ look. Think back-to-basics with a bit of Liberty and floral prints on natural fabrics and viscose. They target teens, men and women aged 14-50 years. Stephanie says the Garden Route remains one of Silver Spoon’s best-selling areas. Find it locally at Tzipporah in Plettenberg Bay.

www.silverspoonclothing.co.za 082 463 9837

 

Alida WilkIn: SHWESHWE

Alida Wilkin is an established fashion designer based in George whose popular Shweshwe clothing range is named after the traditonal African fabric. The clothes are made from 100% cotton, is fairly traded and handmade by a co-operation of small workshops and charitable skills development programs in the Garden Route.

The range has been developed with immense pride in our South African heritage and in the belief that the clothes should be worn and appreciated by people around the world. Alida brings out a new women’s range every year and this season sees her branching into a new direction: a summer range made from fabric she designed exclusively for Shweshwe. It’s still 100% cotton and still has a touch of ethnicity, but the clothes now have better drape.

Three of Alida’s previous summer ranges were snapped up at an annual trade show in New York. In addition to the clothing range, her Nelson Mandela-print caps are very popular – especially overseas, as well as her fabric shopping bags which cleverly folds into a size you can stuff into your handbag.

The business is growing steadily and is now available at a number of boutiques countrywide. In the Garden Route, Shweshwe is stocked at Indalo in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, as well as The Mill at The Crags near Plett. The range will also be available from House of Hemp, a new chain of stores opening countrywide.

www.shweshwe.co.za 072 542 6649

 

Robyn Victor: AUGUST

The work of another former Plett resident, Robyn Victor, is seen in top boutiques around the country. This summer you can also buy a special range of August clothing produced for the Poetry chain of shops – of which one of the first to open was in George’s Garden Route Mall.

Having spent three years in retail design, Robyn wanted to implement her vision and pour her heart into her own label. Through August, launched in 1992, she could combine her fashion sense with her background in advertising and design.

Robyn draws inspiration from travel and the array of cultures that it exposes one to. She is passionate about the art of traditional embellishment and these techniques are used as much as possible within her designs. She loves the haphazardness of hand beading, the textures of hand embroidery, and the subtle mixing of those with designs that are simple and feminine, using soft and natural fabrics.

For her, the design process starts with the fabric – how it falls, how it feels and its colour. Robyn then finds the right combinations to create relaxed clothes with an elegant edge.

Now based in Cape Town, August shows at the Audi Fashion Week in January and for the second year at the Cape Town Fashion Week in February. Around here, you can buy the label at Tzipporah in Plettenberg Bay.

www.august1983.com

082 825 0068

 

Sarah Jane Webber: I LOVE LEROY

Now that she’s in the big league in the big city, does Sarah Jane Weber still love the Garden Route as much? Well, she is planning her wedding at the family farm on the Buffalo Bay road this summer – an event which an insider has described as a “full ‘I Love Leroy’ production”. And she still visits often, so it’s a resounding yes.

Sarah Jane completed her Diploma in Fashion Design and Pattern Making at the Design Academy of Fashion in Cape Town and then launched I Love Leroy in 2002. Her range has shimmied down catwalks at a number of major fashion events, and she was selected a semi-finalist in the Nederburg Young Designer awards in 2005, one of Marie Claire’s top ten emerging South African designers in 2007 as well as first runner-up in the 2008 Cape Town Fashion Festival. Look out for I Love Leroy at the 2011 Design Indaba too, which will be Sarah Jane’s fourth year there.

The popular ladies wear brand consists of dresses, coats, jackets, tops, skirts and trousers in a style that is not trendy but rather classic – so real investment pieces. 2011 sees I Love Leroy entering the accessories and shoe market.

Now based in Cape Town, Sarah Jane supplies to several outlets in Cape Town and Johannesburg; in the Garden Route you can find I Love Leroy at Bobby Hutchinson’s in Plettenberg Bay and various outlets of The Beach House.

www.iloveleroy.co.za

072 614 9458

 

Frances Orzechowski: SOUL

Frances Orzechowski studied fashion design in Cape Town where she kicked off her career with a stint as a designer for Hilton Weiner. In 2003 a friend, Kim Muller, and she decided over a glass of wine that it was time to start their own range. That was the birth of Soul clothing – a classic ladies wear range from linen, viscose and cottons.

In 2008 Frances moved to Plettenberg Bay where the opportunity arose to open a shop at The Old Nick Village. Indalo, which means ‘from the Earth or Nature’, stocks labels in natural fabrics, designed and made in South Africa.

Soul continues to be made in Cape Town and is supplied to 10 shops along the southern coast. This summer, a second Indalo store opened its doors at the Knysna Waterfront. It too will carry both the Soul label and other local designs.

082 460 7729

 

Allison Pledger: ALI UNLIMITED

Allison Pledger’s love for clothing started as a young child when she would spend hours designing and dressing up. She worked in retail merchandising for about 10 years, which was both fun and exciting. Her first range was launched when the family relocated to Botswana – right from the start the clothes had a very natural, relaxed feel with the simplicity of classics.

A great love of travel and beach destinations took Allison to Kenya, where she found exquisite beaded sandals, belts and jewellery made by local craftsmen. These are hand picked to compliment her range of clothing. The summer range sports different styles of cotton vests with either crocheted or fabric flowers or heart designs. Skirts, comfortable cotton harem pants and other pieces are all versatile and can easily be dressed up or down to suit the occasion.

Ali Unlimited has also made a name with importing a wide range of traditional, brightly woven “kikoi” cloth wraps, some of which she fashions into softly lined towels, robes and beach bags.

The range and accessories are available at The Village Shop in Hoekwil, while Allison also exhibits at selected shows countrywide.

www.ali-unlimited.co.za 072 400 8617

 

Karen Bruwer: JINJA

When Australian-born Karen Bruwer came to South Africa in 1992, she decided it was time to do something she loves and enjoys. She made dolls’ clothes as a young girl, then outfits for herself and friends, and from there things just snowballed.

South Africa was her land of opportunity so she took the leap and bought the Jinja business in Plettenberg Bay. The initial, small range of flowing women’s clothing with its unique look has evolved into an extensive range that now includes girls clothing from age one to 10.

Karen believes her in-house trained design team is the key to the last eight years’ success. Jinja is available from own-brand shops in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, as well as boutiques countrywide including Hermanus, Umhlanga Rocks and Bryanston in Johannesburg.

044 533 4484

 

Lee Bailey: BOHO CHIC

Lee Bailey studied fashion and spent a few years working in the industry in Cape Town before a desire for new horisons led her to George in 2004. Once here, she shared her business skills with others as an advisor at the local branch of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

The mutual exchange there has stood her in good stead and Lee now sees herself as a businesswoman as much as a fashion designer. In February 2010, Lee launched Boho Chic and opened her boutique at the Oubaai Retail Village near Herolds Bay.

Apart from a range of day wear that can be purchased off the shelf, Lee also designs exclusive pieces. She’s keen to promote local talent too so most products in the shop are manufactured and designed in the Garden Route.

She believes in the simplicity and elegance that is the hallmark of timeless designs.

www.bohochic.co.za 044 851 0088

 

Claire Trebilcock: CHROMOSOME

Claire Trebilcock grew up in Plettenberg Bay and is best known for being the owner of the popular boutique Tzipporah in Main Road. She has a keen eye for fashion and has built a solid reputation for stocking items by innovative South African designers, many of whom has made their mark in the local industry – including Silver Spoon and August.

Chromosome is an economy range of basic items priced to be accessible to a wider audience.

044 533 6592

 

Jonica Gubika: PAPERDOLL

Newcomer Jonica Gubika from Plettenberg Bay won this year’s designer competition at the Miss Garden Route and Klein Karoo pageant. She studied fashion design in Johannesburg and aimed to have her first range – Paperdoll – on rails by December. The clothes are contemporary with a unique twist but suitable for every day wear. Look out for it at Tzipporah in Plettenberg Bay.

072 278 9502