Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I, the first solo exhibition by Cape Town designer Porky Hefer is currently showing at Southern Guild Gallery, Cape Town. It embodies an old-school craft-consciousness that has appealed to a modern audience.
The monumental show exhibits fantastical underwater animal-inspired seating environments. Hanging buoyant from the ceiling, they’ve turned the vast gallery space into a magnificent faux waterscape. From a crocodile donning avocado leather, to a puffer fish woven with Kooboo cane, these creatures have welcomed gallery visitors on an intriguing journey of submarine discovery.
‘My pieces get people to think about nature, and its fragility, and make them consider how to protect it,’ says Porky of the nest environments with which he has become synonymous. ‘They’re also about protecting local crafts so that these traditions don’t die out.’
The six pieces featured in Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I, have been created using unique local artisanal skills that include weaving, stitching and splicing. ‘No one is playing with these skills in this way,’ explains Porky. ‘People are latching on to technology, but this evolves so quickly that it’s hard to benefit from it, because by the time you master a technological aspect it’s already dead.’
He highlights the importance of reviving and utilising traditional crafts instead, and names Cape Town cane craftsman Ismael Bey, with whom he has been working closely on his weaving projects, as a modern-day example. Ismael has trained weavers at the Cape Town society for the Blind, which is where many of Porky’s designs have been produced. Subsequently, Bey’s traditional knowledge and weaving skills are subverted into these non-traditional forms, and made more relevant.
Describing the stitching processes used in his leather pieces, which include the manta ray M.heloise, and pelican named Pelicanus Iris, Porky says, ‘We change the patterns so that different types of stitches – from a cross stitch to a saddle stitch – are used for different purposes. And there’s a beauty in all these uses, because they’re all “working”.’
The hanging pieces are further enhanced by the ropes from which they are suspended. These are spliced, in the method traditionally used on yachts, which adds to both their strength and beauty.
‘Not many people are doing environmentally-inspired pieces of this nature and especially at this scale,’ explains at Southern Guild Gallery co-founder Julian McGowan. ‘Porky’s work pushes boundaries and perceptions of what art and design are, and ultimately what furniture is and can be.’
Porky Hefer is the 2013 Southern Guild Design Foundation Icon Award winner, and his latest exhibition Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I will run until March 16th at the Southern guild Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa. His larger-than-life work has garnered extensive global recognition over the past few years, with 2015 being a stellar year for his designs, and 2016 eager to receive his next wave of imaginative creations.
Porky Hefer; animal-farm.co.za
Photography © Adriaan Louw