Locally curated

Matt Allison invited four creatives to curate a space in his home using thrifted and gifted items, then they shared a meal made using only local ingredients.

From the Series

What do you do with four empty shelves on a wall unit in your lounge if you’ve got a shoestring budget?

You invite your creative friends to curate the space, be it by thrifting, crafting or begging. And offer them a meal, professionally prepared from produce in your garden, to thank them.

This is what blogger, urban farmer, eco advocate and edible landscaper Matt Allison did with his recent “Curate this Space” project.

Allison had been looking for a way to merge his love of food, blogging and design for some time.  A possible solution came as something of an epiphany while spring-cleaning his Cape Town home. The Cado “Royal System” wall unit in his lounge, Allison decided, could do with a new look. And he would invite his creative friends from the blogosphere to each decorate one of unit’s shelves, after which they would all enjoy a meal, prepared using locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients by personal chef Neill Anthony, who is also a friend of Allison.

The wall unit was cleared to make four 80 x 20 cm shelves available. Next Allison asked four creatives to “curate” one of the shelves, turning it into a mini gallery with just R600 to spend on each shelf.

With this limited budget, the creatives were asked to give Allison a thrifted or a gifted item, which he would then match with one of his own. The thrifted/gifted item would then be passed on to one of the other creative to use in their mini shelf installation.

The four creatives Allison invited to work on the project were illustrator Lauren Fowler, interior designer Neil Stemmet, Lucan R Adams of Kraftisan and creative collaborators The Wild Creative.

Fowler framed an old Kodak Instamatic camera in a glass dome as a central feature, while also displaying Allison’s 60’s era Lucia Ware ‘Deer & Fawn’ and Lisa Firer vase. She also added one of her characteristic cross-stitch creations.

Adams created a custom light fitting ,constructed out of laser cut ply and fitted with a remote controlled LED lamp allowing one to change the colour and mood.

Stemmet’s work went “back to the earth”, with a selection of fired earthenware, a framed butterfly, a tortoise carapace and National Geographic magazines. Atop this is a large piece of rock salt from Veldsdrift and continuing the theme of bringing the outdoors indoors Spanish Moss and an Aloe Tenuior, picked from my garden.

The Wild Creative duo used a selection of vintage medicinal bottles filled with various terrariums and ceramic birds, punctuated by stark black and white prints.

Allison admits to being nervous about the possible outcomes. But, by what he describes on the Curate This Space, blog, “yet as if by some cosmic force the unity running through the curations both in colours, textures and tones is nothing short of remarkable”.

The final result was one of amazing synergy, Allison says. The creatives went back to nature for inspiration, resulting in a look with lots of muted tones and lots of “vintage”. For Allison this creative experiment proved to be a way of finding new meaning in the relationship he has with tangible things. Allison was pleasantly surprised by how well the Curate This Space experiment worked with the look and feel of the rest of his home.