AAAA artisans from Mali, an art co-operative, is launching a pop-up exhibition of contemporary African designs based on traditional techniques in collaboration with Cécile & Boyd.

AAAA artisans from Mali

The display will run from 26 February to 11 March 2020 at Cécile & Boyd’s Kloof Nek Road destination in Cape Town, presenting an opportunity for local interior designers, decorators and art lovers to experience leading decorative homeware from the continent.

Playing on a love of symbolism and design, AAAA stands for Atelier Autodidacts Anti-Algorithms. The co-op aims to celebrate traditional artisanal methods, which includes championing the original Malian textile artform of Bogolan. Bogolan (which means made of mud) is a traditional handmade Malian cotton fabric (called finimugu) that is dyed with fermented mud. AAAA incorporates Bogolan, also known as Bògòlanfini, into their designs and textures, and it is some of these works that will be shown in Cape Town. Visitors can expect to see an edited selection of striking Textile Totems in eight distinct designs that come in eight colour selections and three different sizes.

Creating an AAAA Bogolan is a labour-intensive process involving people and place. All the manufacturing stages are completed by hand – from picking the cotton, to spinning, weaving, dyeing and painting. This hand-made aspect of the production process makes each item original. No two pieces are ever exactly alike.

AAA artisans from Mali

AAAA artisans from Mali on Bogolan

AAAA describes making a Bogolan as a “true slow art process and product. With a minimal of means, we create products that speak the language of the soul.”

This ‘language of the soul’ is what attracted famed trend forecaster Li Edelkoort to create the AAAA project with artist Birgitta de Vos, under the umbrella of the United Nations and financially supported by the EU. The exhibition at Cecile & Boyd is timed to open when Edelkoort will be in Cape Town to present as part of the 25th edition of the renowned Design Indaba conference.

Coming full circle, Edelkoort is similarly connected to Cécile & Boyd, citing Singita Lebombo, where the interiors were designed by Cécile & Boyd, as one of her favourite places to visit in the world.

What: AAAA artisans from Mali

Where and when: Cécile & Boyd, 26 Kloof Nek Road, Cape Town until 11 March