Transformation explores the space that the collectible design gallery occupies between art and design, visionary expression and forthright purpose. Exhibiting newly commissioned work from 14 South African designers and artists, Transformation presents experimentation in material and scale, challenging the traditional understanding of where artwork ends and functional design begins.

‘Does a sculpture become design if it offers a useful surface? Is a chair cast in bronze or carved in marble a sculpture?’ asks Southern Guild Director Julian McGowan. As curator of the exhibition, Julian challenged this select group to produce a piece that invites the audience to ask similar questions. ‘We are working in a sphere where function becomes disfunction, where location and dislocation exist side by side, and intention and disturbance converge,’ he explains.

Exhibiting designer Sanell Aggenbach says of the show, ‘It comes down to new ways of perceiving the world around you, altering perception by altering objects.’

Her piece, Baby its Cold Outside, references a photograph from a book of vintage flower arranging from 1968. ‘There is a certain beauty in flaws, a glitch in a photograph, a crease, a tear. This wall sculpture references a perfectly arranged bouquet, slowly unpicked and unraveled tonally. The transformation from an image to an object extends to the deliberate undoing and establishing of new materiality, flawed and transcendental.’

Other work, such as the furniture pieces by Dokter and Misses, was created through an organic process, moving away from their usual emphasis on utility. This resulted in a hat stand that only holds one hat (Desire), a very low coffee table (Dreamz) and a plinth-like table (Possibilities).

Exhibiting for the third time with Southern Guild, Stanislaw Trzebinski says that his traditional role of working predominantly as an artist rather than a designer means that Transformation offers him the exact platform on which to illustrate the blurring line between the two disciplines. ‘This space allows me to express myself in ways that I could not have done before, in a manner that lets go of the restraints that my “pure art” places on me,’ he explains.

As the contributors to South African collectible design explore the boundaries of this growing category, it is exhibitions like Transformation that define our participation in this global movement.

The exhibition will include work by Adam Birch, Chuma Maweni, Conrad Hicks, David Krynauw, Dokter and Misses, Guy du Toit, Jesse Ede, John Vogel, Madoda Fani, Otto Du Plessis, Sanell Aggenbach, Stanislaw Trzebinski, Trevor Potter and Xandre Kriel.

Southern Guild Gallery
Unit 1, 10 Lewin Street, Woodstock, Cape Town
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm (Saturday by appointment only)
Closed from 23 December 2016 – 9 January 2017

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