It is not often that shipyard containers are devoted to the curation of art. Zama Phakathi, the founder of Stop Sign Art Gallery, uses the containers to showcase the up and coming creative forces of Johannesburg.
Phakathi entered the Johannesburg art scene in 2012 during the Soweto Arts Residency. Her first successes as a curator cemented her reputation as a representative of the city’s undiscovered creative youth. But, faced with gallerists who were reluctant to showcase unknown artists, Phakathi was motivated to think outside the norm.
In 2013, she launched The Stop Sign Art Gallery as a mobile contemporary creative space. Phakathi sees the mobile gallery as the solution for artists who do not have the resources available to exhibit their work in upscale art galleries. She chose shipping containers as the basic infrastructure for her new venture because they are cost effective and mobile, opening up a range of opportunities.
She chose the district of Maboneng as the base location for Stop Sign Art Gallery because it is home to a youthful business climate with a number of start-up companies. Phakathi emphasises affordable art in her gallery, which gives greater accessibility to artisans and art lovers alike.
During pop-up events, the Stop Sign Art Gallery is moved to a new spot for better geographical coverage. Parties are held in and around these containers to celebrate new exhibitions and close old ones.
Phakathi aims to build an art hub around the success of Stop Sign Art Gallery. An additional library and art residency program are also in Phakathi’s entrepreneurial sights. She believes the celebration of new art is the way to achieve her goals.