South African design entrepreneur Nkuli Mlangeni-Berg’s The Ninevites is facilitating a residency with Sweden’s Gamleby Photo Grant. The Ninevites is an acclaimed design studio and collaborative platform producing gorgeous, handcrafted homeware pieces, most notably the award-winning Sankara rug.
“I founded The Ninevites in 2012 and it was initially the idea of creating a story, creating a space where I could create work that I relate too. When I founded The Ninevites, there weren’t a lot of things representing me; the fashion and art world were influenced by Europe, you didn’t see many black faces. I started The Ninevites to create a space where I could share those images with the world and show them my experience in my community. It is a collaborative platform, a space for creativity, exploration, and research documentation. Ninevites is a constantly changing and shifting project,” says Mhlangeni-Berg.
Mlangeni-Berg, now based in Sweden, is expanding her ethos of collaboration to a residency in Gamleby in the southeast of Sweden, saying that “I wanted to collaborate with artists from SA, especially within my current international context. The residency will be for the month of July; we are essentially going to create a space where we can explore ideas, focus on creativity, and see what emerges. There is no specific conclusion, its more about the process and the space. The residencies are accommodated to family, having the space to create and to be a parent.”
Funded by Tjustbygdens Sparkbank, the residency aims to support the production of new artistic work, creativity and serve as a platform for artists from the South. The four recipients for 2022 include Cape Town-based artist, textile designer and researcher Sibabalwe Ndlwana; theatre-maker Lindiwe Matshikiza; visual artist Meghan Judge and sound artist João Renato Orecchia. The exchange of ideas between the artists in residence and local artists will be assisted through technical equipment, accommodation, and studio space.
The Ninevites is focused on making beautiful things, in collaboration with artisans from across the global South, from Peru to the Karoo. Their products are handcrafted with natural materials in the Western Cape by female artisans, using time-trusted techniques to ensure exceptional quality and durability, and to express Black culture in a visceral and made-to-be-touched form. Bold geometric patterns inspired by traditional crafts such as basketry, pottery, art and beadwork emerge in homeware that is as comfortable in interior architecture as it is in an art gallery.
One of her latest collaborations among several on which Mhlangeni Berg is working, is a partnership with the Cape Flats artist, Wayne PKS, encompassing fifty pieces that use playful doodles to represent a cross-section of South African cultures. “I see myself as ... a person who really likes to bring people together. With the platform of The Ninevites, I try to do that as much as possible. Whether it’s bringing together a fine artist with a performance artist, or a graffiti artist, or a ceramicist, I am focused on the beauty that emerges from collaboration,” she explains.
From this weekend, a selection of The Ninevites products can be found at the KAMERS/Makers market in Menlyn Pretoria until the 2 May 2022.