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Neo-Classical Beads


Designing and crafting pieces made from beads is my earnest attempt at trying to push beadwork into a whole new realm of visual appreciation. I feel that constant intersection-exposure to beadwork has left us all with ‘bead-fatigue’ and interest in this wonderful local craft has waned. I think that the one way this ‘bead-fatigue’ can we transformed into something glorious is by looking at traditional Euro-centric design through a local lens. The Neo-Classical mirror is made entirely out of white beads and wire and is based on a Robert Adam Mirror design from late 18th Century England. Adam was a Scottish architect, designer and furniture maker who was largely responsible for the wave of Neo-Classicism that washed over Europe after the discovery of Pompeii in 1748. His Classic and timeless designs are considered essential to any Georgian interior. The lightness and femininity of the original antique design make a happy marriage with the tiny beads. The Adam design itself was interpreted by a wonderful Zimbabwean ‘beadsmith’ who had never worked on anything quite as epic as this before. The design took many weeks to hone and perfect, but he was quick to take on the challenge and it wasn’t long until Acanthus leaf, Guilloche and S-shaped scrolls became part of his craftsmanship vocabulary. The Neo-Classical beaded mirror is one of three beaded mirror designs in the series and is the first rectangular-shaped work. Rigid, four-sided shapes are rather ‘un-African’ and I think that this quadrangle form makes the contrast between the tiny African beads and the Euro-centric design all the more exciting and explicit. The Neo-Classical mirror’s cresting has been applied with vertical festoons which catch light breezes – adding movement and a gentle spirit to the piece. The shadows that are cast off the mirror at night by evening lighting are equally as bewitching. Chandler House is a small design studio that Michael Chandler set up in 2010 after leaving the art and antique auction world. It is his interest in antiques and the Cape’s visual history that inform his current designs. Says Chandler: “The Cape visual history is rich and largely untapped. I hope that by using it as a source of inspiration, my designs might encourage people to look into our rich cultural past and appreciate how unique and rich it is. And have fun while doing it.”