Passion Points: Style
If it’s African curios and artifacts you seek in Johannesburg, the good news is that you only need to know two places: Art Africa and Amatuli Fine Art. The former has a huge selection of everything from children’s toys, to Christmas trinkets, house wares and artwork to fashion accessories—and at reasonable prices. Colorful, fun, funky, pretty, original. You will see things here you won’t see at the airport shops (though some of the airport shops are good) or anywhere else for that matter. The front part of the shop proffers handmade contemporary crafts from all over Africa—often made by cooperatives or groups from rural communities. The back is a gallery of more traditionally defined “tribal art,” with masks, headrests, sculpture, pottery, basketry and so forth.
This part of Art Africa is a mere hint at the volume and selection at Amatuli Fine Art, which houses room upon room of African crafts as well as more serious, i.e., expensive, textiles, artifacts, and furnishings. Owned by Mark and Christine Valentine, Amatuli has a workshop that creates, assembles, and repairs merchandise, and Mark also designs and commissions work exclusively for his clientele, including the New York-based store Anthropoligie. As I was leaving, a pair of amazing beaded club chairs was being unloaded from a truck. They come from Nigeria, Mark told me, and take as much as six months to make, using one and a half million beads. The price? “6,800 rand a piece,” he says, or around US $880, adding, “They sold them at Anthropologie for $4,000.”
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