|Foto NamibiaWildlife photographer, Hentie Burger, knows the Namibian landscape has a million different photographic angles and that they all make for great photographs. He established Foto Namibia in the Namibia Craft Centre to showcase a series of breathtaking photographs featuring Namibian wildlife, vegetation, society and culture as uniquely as he sees it; like a tourist, for the very first time.
Hentie Burger took his first photograph when he was twelve years old. Almost half a century later, he still has a sense of wonderment at and consequently treats with unreserved awe the natural landscape of Namibia. Photographers are generally required to be very observant of occurrences in their surroundings; Hentie Burger is no different. He notices a yawning young cheetah, a dozing lion, sparring horses, an anxious oryx bull and he also captures a shy child in the Himba hinterland or a concerned mother bathed orange by the sun setting in the Kalahari. Interestingly, he has the ability to make rural, traditional communities appear commonplace, while landscapes, fauna and flora are photographed in such a way, as to appear exotic, even to Namibians.
In addition to the stunning photographs of various scales and sizes, Foto Namibia also has an impressive selection of rare Namibian coffee table photo books and albums of Namibian landscapes, fauna and flora, all in hardcover and glossed for additional durability, the perfect gift or reception area frontispiece.
Literature of Namibian origin has a special and dedicated space at Foto Namibia and here customers are likely to find veritable jewels of indigenous and local literature, including stories told from as many different angles as there are Namibians. These are collector’s items because many are out of print already and circulation may have been low.
Namibian music is often overlooked as an export or income-generating product however, Foto Namibia brings visitors a step closer to cultural immersion by rounding off a superb product range with traditional Namibian music, tastefully presented in the modern form of CDs, and a selection of choral, gospel and contemporary Namibian music (influenced by technology and the West), including a few rare recordings of haunting Namibian folk songs.
Foto Namibia offers visitors and customers a complete visual (photographs), audio (music) and intellectual (literature) experience of an unforgettable and rarely seen Namibia.
|Glenda's Leather Art & Curio Boutique
Glenda Meinert produces original wildlife and figurative art on high-quality, hand-selected leather. Every piece is different and due to the nature of leather, requires careful planning in composition, layout, design and selection. She draws inspiration from African, Namibian wildlife and landscapes.
Glenda started her working career as a designer and pattern-maker at Nakara, Namibia's largest tannery and producer of leather products, where she designed national costumes for Miss Namibia.
In her spare time, she experimented with leather offcuts, produced greeting cards and small landscapes which were presented to friends. Encouraging positive responses induced Glenda to experiment with leather on larger landscapes and finally led to the creation of wildlife art. Her first exhibition in 1998 was a great success.
In June 2010, Glenda opened Glenda's Leather and Art Curio Boutique in the Namibia Craft Centre, thereby realising a dream to have her own art shop. Her leather has a tactile appeal and durability which invites customers to interact directly with the artwork through touch.
Glenda's Leather Art and Curio Boutique can custom-design art on leather to suit customer preferences.
|Ibenstein WeaversIbenstein Weavers produces high-quality, decorative carpets, runners and wall-hangings using Karakul wool. Karakul sheep were introduced to Namibia more than a hundred years ago and the species flourished in the dry Namibian climate. The pelt of the sheep is particularly prized for the production of high-value Persian carpets in the Middle East.
In 1952, Marianne Krafft started weaving carpets using Namibian Karakul wool on the farm Klein Ibenstein, 90kms east of Windhoek, in the Dordabis farming community area. Today, Ibenstein Weavers employs 12 employees, is a fully operational weaving enterprise and produces Karakul products of the highest quality in southern Africa. It is also incidentally the largest employment provider in the rural area of Dordabis.
In addition to Karakul carpets, blankets, runners and wall-hangings, Ibenstein Weavers also produces a beautiful selection of fabrics woven from natural yarns such as Kalahari wild silk, linen, wild Namibian cotton and bamboo.
A selection of products is on display and for sale at the Namibia Craft Centre but customers are also more than welcome to visit the plant at Ibenstein Weavers by appointment and for a tour of the facility to view the operations and range of products.
|!Ikhoba Textile ProjectThe !Ikhoba Textile Project was started in 1983 by sisters Heide, Karin and Ute Lacheiner on their family farm outside Otjiwarongo, in northern Namibia. !Ikhoba is the San word for the riveting Namibian antelope generally known as 'gemsbok' or 'oryx', or collectively as 'wild animals of Africa'. The wives of the farmworkers on the farm produced unique, distinctively African embroidery, frequently inspired by African wildlife, which were in great demand and sold quickly.
The Lacheiner sisters decided to create a sustainable market for the women's embroidery products via the !Ikhoba Textile Project and collected embroidery from as many as 400 women, at one time. Each embroiderer worked at her own pace, in the comfort of her own home and produced unique, embroidery pieces which were then washed and sewn into beautiful bedspreads, T-shirts, tablecloths, wall-hangings, cushion covers and table mats to name but a few. The surface fabrics are 100% cotton and machine-washable.
The finished, embroidered products are marketed to the public through several outlets in Namibia, including the Namibia Craft Centre. In 2006, the !Ikhoba project headquarters relocated to Swakopmund where Heide Lacheiner-Kuhn and Mildred Kehrmann continue to manage, market and innovate around the !Ikhoba brand of products, an impressive range that currently includes 300 line items. Women in the Otjiwarongo area now send their embroidery to Swakopmund for finishing.
!Ikhoba won several awards over the course of its thirty-year existence, including international awards in Germany for the empowerment of rural women in Namibia. Changing priorities in international tourist trends have recently brought about an increased focus on the domestic market to sustain the project in the long-term.
!Ikhoba Textile Project continues to produce bright, unique and highly sought-after embroidered products for the home, as gifts, Christmas decorations and various handmade designer craft objects, made from recycled material.
|Josephine’s Leather Work, Arts and CraftsClaudia Hangara is a craft trader from rural Namibia, raised in a family loving all things leather. Fifteen years ago, when she started her own business, Josephine’s Leather Work, Arts and Crafts, Claudia’s range naturally focused exclusively on handbags, purses, wallets, jewellery and animals made of leather.
The leather is sourced locally thereby lending to each item a 100% Namibian identity. As the years passed and her business grew, Claudia slowly incorporated other items into her range of products such as rawhide sandals of springbok hide, wire craft, dolls, key-rings and beaded products.
Claudia has travelled the world extensively, particularly Europe, to showcase her Namibian leather products and in an effort to expand the range of crafts and afford women especially the opportunity for economic empowerment, employs crafters directly to produce for Josephine’s Leather Work, Arts and Crafts.
Her outstanding range of Namibian animal hides such as springbok, oryx, zebra and nguni are firm favourites internationally, and she has a keen eye for hides in excellent condition, with an added willingness to offer her clients the very best available. Her business acumen and estimation of a hide’s true worth is legendary in Namibian leather circles and she is able to assist exporters with the correct information and advises how best to care for Namibian animal hides.
Claudia Hangara has a unique set of skills in Windhoek and a visit to her stall in the Namibia Craft Centre is compulsory if you are in the market for an enticing variety of leather products, crafts, Namibian art and in particular, if you are looking for a beautiful animal hide to decorate and compliment your home or office.
|Kalahari Wild SilkGonometa postica is commonly known as the African wild silk moth. It is a large species of moth most notable for producing a cocoon of fine quality wild silk. The cocoons are typically spun on the branches of acacia trees in the Kalahari. The moth emerges from its cocoon every November to December and thereafter, abandons the cocoon on the ground around the tree, where it may be ingested by farm and wild animals with disastrous results; the cocoons swell in the stomachs of animals resulting in death by suffocation, dehydration and starvation.
Ian Cummings helped establish the Kalahari Wild Silk project in the small settlement of Leonardville, in 2002, on the edge of the Kalahari in an effort to combat the deaths of farm and wild animals. He was supported in this endeavour by funding from Oxfam Canada and the local Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development. Cummings, a silk industry professional, had gained much of his expertise in Madagascar, where wild silk had been harvested successfully for centuries.
Community members in Leonardville were trained to identify, gather, process and weave the silk of the cocoons, which is naturally brownish in colour. Only cocoons discarded by moths are gathered to ensure the next harvest of cocoons and the survival of the species. The Kalahari silk thread harvested from the cocoons is thicker and tougher than Asian silk but responds very well to commercial colour treatments. Every Namibian in the supply and production chain is rewarded for their contribution to the final product: Kalahari Wild Silk.
Long, soft scarves made of Kalahari Wild Silk are particularly and stunningly beautiful. An awesome array of attractive colours suited to every wardrobe and style palette such as khaki, golden yellow, royal blue, cerise, burnt red and natural tan to name but a few, creates a desire to own as many silk scarves as possible. Kalahari Wild Silk is 100% natural and Namibian, making it the perfect gift and trendy fashion item to support a crucial employment and conservation project on the edge of the great Kalahari.
|Karas Huisen CraftsThe dusty, sandy streets of Tseiblaagte in Keetmanshoop, snake haphazardly around a conglomeration of patched shacks and dilapidated houses in southern Namibia. This is a part of the town not supplied with electricity and characterised by soaring levels of unemployment, low levels of education, habitual alcohol and substance abuse, violence, hunger and the spread of HIV/AIDS. The community of Tseiblaagte is marginalised on so many levels, that it teeters on the edge of desperation.
Karas Huisen Crafts operates from the community centre in Tseiblaagte and currently employs more than fifty people from the community, living with HIV/AIDS, to produce a range of beautiful dolls, colourful and humorous carry and shopping bags, ostrich-shell adornments and hair accessories, and cuddly stuffed animals. Preferential employment is also granted to vulnerable women, who are very often barely literate and heads of their families. Sadly, the organisation lost a considerable number of crafters to AIDS in the years since establishment.
The aim of Karas Huisen Crafts is to instil basic working habits (like punctuality and task-completion), build self-esteem and give the crafters the opportunity to earn a basic income, accompanied with basic financial advice, to enable the most vulnerable and poorest to survive. In addition to an in-house HIV/AIDS training programme, the crafters are also taught the latest techniques in needlework, beadwork, embroidery and jewellery-making. The crafters are encouraged to be innovative, create their own designs and follow-through with final products.
The handmade products of Karas Huisen Crafts are sold locally at the Namibia Craft Centre and exported to Europe as a means to sustain the project, long-term. The concept for Karas Huisen Crafts originated with the concerned volunteers of international, Czech organisation ‘People in Need’ and was established in Keetmanshoop, in 2004.
The community of Tseiblaagte has a distinct cultural aesthetic which is immediately recognisable in the expert patchwork, triangular and precise, handmade decorations finished with painstakingly detailed embroidery on the products from Karas Huisen Crafts. This is an empowerment project requiring all the support it can possibly get.