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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


(Fiona Simmons: Turquoise, brass and coral necklace)

New trends in traditional Zulu beaded jewellery and a unique new range of jewellery by Fiona Simmons can be seen at the African Art Centre in an exhibition titled Transformation and Innovation.

This exhibition focuses on the innovation and transformation of beadwork within the unique South African tradition. Unique items of jewellery created by crafters supported by the Centre and especially-crafted pieces by Fiona Simmons will illustrate how contemporary craftswomen bridge the gap from indigenous roots through to contemporary urban design.

Fiona Simmons is no stranger to the African Art Centre. Passionate about community development and the upliftment of people through art and craft, she is well known for her extensive sourcing of authentic beads, body adornments and textiles from afar afield as Benin, Congo, Ghana, Togo and the Ivory Coast which she uniquely incorporates into fine pieces of jewellery.

In previous exhibitions at the Centre, Fiona explored the use of antique beads, indigenous artifacts and materials using the aesthetic principles of traditional design. Although rooted in this genre, she explores new materials in this exhibition such as stone, wood and fabric which she combines with unusual contemporary design. A leitmotif present in her new range of jewellery is the incorporation of recycled materials. By the nature of its construction, beadwork can be altered and updated over time and the possibilities provided by reconstituting forms, shapes and materials present an assorted selection of distinctive necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

To compliment the range by Fiona Simmons, a new collection of jewellery will be on display, specially created by selected highly skilled crafters who have been attending Development Workshops presented by the African Art Centre throughout the year. These workshops aim at developing new skills and techniques, product development and encourage the production of works of originality and of the highest quality. The designs are based on traditional Zulu beadwork, which have been transformed into contemporary fashionable jewellery.

Transformation and Innovation runs until May 15 at the African Art Centre, 94 Florida Road, Durban. More information on 031 312 3804.