The stuff of legends

Illustrations of local myths by 44 different artists sold like hot cakes from the "Paper Planes" exhibition at Design Indaba Expo.

Paper Planes, a collaboration between Design Indaba and Alexander’s Band, was the first ever group illustration exhibition to grace the Expo floor.

The prints by 44 local artists are artistic depictions of the myths and legends of South Africa: 22 stories, each with two artists’ interpretations. Some of the pairs are vastly different in style, illustrating beautifully and literally the different ways to unravel a story onto paper.

“We’ve had incredible feedback. All the stories are the ones we all hear from a young age, so lots of people recognise them or have their own way of telling them. People have been coming out of the shadows and saying they are also working on things related to mythology,” said Arnelle Woker, one of the founders of Alexander’s Band.

Wrapped around the stand was the "Collaborative Wall", a long scroll of paper onto which visitors to Expo could add drawings.

“Since the school kids came on Friday, it’s really started growing,” said Woker. “Everyone ‘s got involved! There have been signatures, letters, doodles, sketches and some of our illustrators have been and joined in and people have been watching them.”

The scroll became a long narrative piece, which Woker and Emma Cook, co-founder of Alexander’s Band, are hoping to showcase online.

They’ll scan the whole thing and viewers will be able to look on the website and move digitally through it.

The length of paper was rolled and renewed twice already (requiring the help of four people) so that more drawings could be added to the story.

The illustrations from Paper Planes were printed on hahnemule paper, made of archival cotton rag, to order by Wet Ink.

There have been enquiries from certain art galleries in Cape Town, interested in hosting an exhibition of the work, and Woker mentioned they may look into doing a pop-up show later in the year.

“The dream,” she said, “is to take Paper Planes overseas to festivals and showcase South African talent to the world.”