WINDHOEK- The Omba Gallery in the Old Breweriees Complex is hosting a X-Mas in July exhibition which opens next Wednesday.
The idea for a Christmas exhibition in July came to life because the holidays are an important time of year for families to spend valuable time together. Also, the cold weather brings with it a feeling of hibernation and celebration.
In Namibia Christmas falls in summer. Unless the holidays are celebrated at the coast where it might be a bit cooler people do not really have the opportunity to enjoy the standard Christmas style celebration, held at a cold time of the year. The idea of the Christmas in July is because much of Namibia’s culture is derived from Europe. This way Namibians get to enjoy traditions such as Glühwein without temperatures of 32 degrees.
Hosting a Christmas in July also presents a good opportunity to show tourists from oversees some of our Namibian traditions around Christmas time. While Christmas trees overseas include the traditional Christmas tree and the mistletoe; Namibians have whitethorn trees and dried agave stems as decoration.
African nativity scenes are made of banana leaves while the tree ornaments are made of beads, makalani nuts as well as recycled tin and wire. Traditional colors overseas are green and red white, silver and gold, which are also visible in Namibian decorations as well also bright popping colors.
As the exchanging of gifts is one of the main aspects of modern Christmas celebration it makes the holiday season the most profitable time of the year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. Here in Namibia our main tourist season is from July to September.
The exhibition includes typical Namibian Christmas decorations, but also exciting and new gift ideas. The bead decorations are made by a team of bead artists who each have developed their own specialty in the craft.
Love-Joy is a master of copper wire and recycled colorful wires. Shumba has an amazing eye for modern ideas and products. Tapiwa has a fine talent of turning old tins into fun animals. Oscar is not only a great artist but an excellent business man. Nicholas has an incredible skill for transforming antique furniture into hip and modern artifacts. Benni is the makalani specialist with a gift of turning makalani nuts into Namibia wildlife scenes.
When asked what they like about working with tin, wire and beads they said that they enjoy creating things with their hands. They also prefer creating art from recycled materials as opposed to wood carving where trees are felled.
Some of the gift ideas include photographs taken by Kai Auchincloss, who has recently moved to Swakopmund. Kai says that his soul rests in the Namibian desert. He adds that he is trying to show people a different perspective, one that turns its back on what the norm is. Kai also joined the Ikhoba team in Swakopmund and has helped constructing cushion covers and quilts.
The ‘Ikhoba project was conceived in 1983 by the Lacheiner sisters on farm Marburg, in the Otjiwarongo District, northern Namibia. Since its beginning ‘Ikhoba Textiles has become a key community project providing regular income to over 300 men and women and their families throughout Namibia.
Till the end of 2005 the project and the people it employs were predominantly based on Farm Marburg, in the Otjiwarongo District. Since, then the nerve center of this enterprise has moved to Swakopmund. Heidi-Marie Lacheiner Kuhn conducts meetings at a central point in Otjiwarongo to receive embroided textiles, issue new supplies of fabric and yarn as well as see to payment of work delivered.
The embroided materials are then prepared in Swakopmund for the different outlets. There are two Shops in Swakopmund: Ikhoba Creations and Meme Ikhoba. Two more outlets are situated in Windhoek, one in the Namibian Craft Center and one in the Old Breweries Craft Market, called African Chic.
Arising from a traditional handwork art, the embroideries are tied in closely with the living circumstances of the artists. With amazing creativity each individual creates her own embroidery drawing from what they saw and experienced in Namibia.
This year Heidi-Marie Lacheiner Kuhn and the Ikhoba team have created a range of quilts and patchwork cushions with a contemporary twist. Some of the Quilts have Namibian proverbs written on them in native Namibian languages such as mOshiwambo and Damara-Nama. Other quilts and cushions display words such as Love Peace and Home in several Namibian languages.
Other gift articles include secondhand/antique furniture which is painted by Mathius Hipiqwa or better known in the Namibian art scene as MA-HI. Mathius is a well-known Namibian artist and this exhibition is one of many in his long career. For this exhibition he transformed old furniture into vibrant art pieces with his colorful animals.
The different artists and the Ikhoba team worked closely together with Mildred Kehrmann for this exhibition. Mildred Kehrmann: ‘For me Christmas is a time for being with loved ones and family. It is important for me that we can show people from abroad how we have adopted their Christmas traditions and molded them to be our own. I had many fun moments with the artists for instance trying to explain what a snowman is and looks like to someone who has never seen snow before.
When it comes to the gift ideas I wanted to give traditional artifacts a new fresh twist. I also wanted old unwanted things like furniture and trophies to be recognized for their original beauty.
The quilts created by the Ikhoba group are for decoration purposes and should also carry a message from one generation to the next. When I think of wisdoms you learn from your parents and elders I think about families sitting together at special occasions such as the Christmas holidays. The exhibition runs until August 13.