Africa is coming!

“Vula amehlo” (open your eyes) is a powerful Zulu expression that alerts us what’s new. Our image features Sho Madjozi, a revolutionary new creative figure in South Africa who celebrates the Tsonga culture from her region of Limpopo, especially the enlivening xibelani dance.

Our Africa issue is a space to think again about the “dark continent”. We can learn about the many projects that translate cultural traditions into contemporary lifestyles. Help Africans share these stories with pride by keeping our platform going. Garland has no ongoing funding or advertising. It depends on your subscriptions and donations to keep going. Help us reach Africa!


Garland continues to attract stories from the African continent, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana and Mauritius. Issue #19 in June 2020 will be an opportunity to understand the diversity and energy of this region of the world.

A key partner is the Jewellery Department of the University of Johannesburg. The theme of “urgent adornment” reflects an immediacy in aesthetics on the African street.

The concept of the street includes the activities of making that are evident in public spaces. This can include street vendors who make and repair objects on the spot. But it can also extend into the corporate area with the challenge of activating precincts. The thriving suburb of Maboneng in Johannesburg is an example of this.

Potential subjects include:

  • Street fashion
  • Particular streets or precincts that combine making and selling
  • Contemporary uses of traditional adornment
  • Afropunk and Afro-Futurism in everyday life

The kinds of questions we explore include:

  • How do you foster a vibrant street life where things are not only sold but also made?
  • How can tribal artefacts still used in the village or museum adapt to contemporary street life?
  • What are the creative energies that make space for the new which retain African characteristics?
  • How can objects made for internal spaces, such as the gallery, be transformed so they can be worn in the street?
  • What’s fresh in Africa?

Submissions for this issue will be due 1 May 2020 but it is recommended that proposals be sent through for feedback well beforehand.

Here are our existing stories from Africa:

Creating sanctuary through beading: The South Sudanese Elders group - Caroline Lenette finds herself welcomed with beads into the South Sudanese women's group.
Andile Dyalvane ✿ uTyityilizi - Our December laurel goes to the South African ceramicist Andile Dyalvane for his powerful vessel titled, uTyityilizi.
4,000-year-old string discovered in Egypt - At Garland, we love stories of string. This rich article from a publication about coastal cultures includes the story of how perfectly preserved papyrus rope was discovered in a man-made cave in the ancient Egyptian harbour of Saww. String-lovers will enjoy this.
Ankara print histories alive in the streets of Johannesburg - Belinda Cook explores the revival of home-grown African fashion on the streets of Joburg.
Devalued Currencies, Metaphorical Tapestries: “Yaw Owusu – All That Glitters” - Seen from afar, Yaw Owusu's artworks look like pleasantly eye-catching geometrical tapestries made with a sort of glittery paint.
Paying the school fees: Bolga baskets in Ghana - NGO TradeAid is based in Bolgatanga, in the Upper East region of Ghana. Its goal is to end poverty in the northern regions. We hear from the weavers about the value of Bolga baskets in the lives of themselves and those they care for.
A new festival for Madagascar, the home of wild silk - Indrasen Vencatachellum, long time Director of UNESCO's Craft and Design Programme, introduces a new festival of natural dyes and textiles for Madagascar.
The social lamellophone - Gary Warner guides us through the journey of a lamellaphone, from its history in Africa to its urban reconstruction in Sydney as a social object. This article betrays a unique interplay between art, craft, music and community.
Zambia, I presume by Auditor Chiyonkoma - Nearby the majestic Victoria Falls, Auditor Chiyonkoma has created a business making wooden objects so that tourists can take away works of Zambian craft along with their memories. Auditor's story gives us a glimpse of how someone comes to be a maker in Africa today.
The Bolga basket: Ahmedabad comes to Accra - The purpose of the initiative is to adapt sensitively basket-making traditions, practices and challenges facing Africa’s women basket weavers, through drawing on the experience and knowledge of India’s traditional craft and highly developed design sectors.
Binga baskets and other treasures of Zimbabwean craft - Leah Mugwagwa celebrates Zimbabwean crafts, particularly the Binga basket.