Wheelbarrows have a rich conceptual history in South Africa where they are the preferred mode of transport for shebeen stock; used to carry infants and the sick to clinics; and are a popular toy for kids of all ages and can double up as hammocks for municipal workers taking a break.
The Carry Me Away exhibition at the Corner Café in Durban saw 10 local artists and designers celebrate the wheelbarrow. The rollcall included Modern Museum's Jean-Paul Brouard, Jenna-Leah Shone and Richard Phipson; Disturbance Design's Christian Mugnai and Trevor Paul; Iron Fist's Lyle Wessels; independents Sarah Holloway, Ross Turpin and George Halloway - whose brainchild the exhibition was; and myself.
The idea of the show was to take "usable items" and decorate them outside in the courtyard to complement the Corner Café's garden. Said Halloway: "The exhibition happened in my head the first time I sat on the back 'deck' of the Corner Café. I saw a bunch of altered garden utensils displayed against the back wall. Then, as I left and drove down Frere Road, I found a guy selling wheelbarrows at his front gate and I bought three. Three grew to 10 and it became an exhibition with some great artists buying in to my idea."
Everyone involved brought a unique idea to the wheelbarrow shape. Mugnai turned his into a lightbox, Phipson made a bookshelf with a clever slogan and Brouard created a cheeky love nest. In turn, inspired by a recent series of designs I did for Revolution Skateboards, I converted the outside shell of my wheelbarrow into a canvas.
The exhibition was very successful in taking art out of a gallery and to the man in the street - or shall I say garden - giving art a different meaning. Future exhibitions with artists designing other garden tools such as spades or saws are also planned.
More info: www.hopeproject.co.za