South Africa has no shortage of exciting artistic talent, and we love to hear about our local favourites being showcased overseas. R & Company has launched its latest exhibition in Manhattan, which showcases the woven, human-sized nests of Cape Town designer and artist Porky Hefer.
The collection is aptly titled Heart of Lightness and draws inspiration from Joseph Conrad’s classic novel, Heart of Darkness. The book details a troubled journey up the Congo river, which aligns with Hefer’s views surrounding the stereotypes perpetuated by colonialism in South Africa, and which sadly still exist today. The works are his effort to tackle the damaging role of largely unquestioned behaviours and perceptions in the country.
Hefer’s suspended nests are entirely crafted in SA and are made up of natural plant stalks, woven to shape with additional dried grasses, rattan panels and dried leaves for decorative effect. As the exhibition text explains, Heart of Lightness is ‘an exploration of perception and instinct, encouraging the viewer to go back to what is human, what is natural and what is playful’.
Hefer’s work – both in his capacity as an artist and done under his creative consultancy Animal Farm – has received international recognition, most notably during the inaugural London Design Biennale in 2016. He’s represented by Southern Guild Gallery, who say: ‘Making use of traditional techniques and crafts that focus on the hand rather than machinery, Hefer’s work ensures that age-old skills are preserved and kept relevant in a modern age’.
The nests on display in NYC carry a sense of enchantment and escapism from our manic reality. Though we’d love to be among the New Yorkers viewing the exhibition in person, we salute Porky Hefer in yet another international accolade from afar.
Heart of Lightness is showing at R & Company until 23 February 2017.