The exhibition Bead Art from Africa – Mottas Collection  showed at the Museum Rietberg Zürich in Switzerland from 7th June to 21st Oct 2018. Whether in the shape of fine ornaments, impressive masks, or royal stools – bead art from southern, eastern and western Africa is admired for the delicacy of its workmanship and the diversity of styles. The exhibition explored the aesthetics and meanings of beadwork – whether extravagant pieces of jewellery, imposing masks or royal stools. Glass beads never merely served decorative or ornamental purposes; the colours and designs also convey intricate messages about age, gender, and identity of the persons wearing the pieces.

With “Bead Art from Africa” the Rietberg Museum presents an exhibition on the aesthetics and significance of pearl art, which for the first time focuses on women as artists. Long unrecognised by art history, women as creators of pearl works play a important role in African art. The pearl art created by women from South and East Africa has the rank of figurative art in West Africa. The view on design and technique to reveals the high level of craftsmanship and creativity in the production of the filigree structures.

As part of the exhibition, we were honoured to be invited to create a fashion installation and speak at the event for the Long Night of Museums. Fashion Africa Now’s founder, Beatrace Angut Oola, curated the installation and selected designers from Uganda, Cameroon, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana to be part of the installation.

Over the course of the last years, major African cities have witnessed the growth of a vibrant fashion scene. Labels such as Duro Olowu, Black Coffee, Maki Oh or MaXhosa by Laduma are internationally successful and praised for their creativity. In the talk in connection with the exhibition Bead Art from Africa, we were able to discuss – The Future of Fashion with the designer Laduma Ngxokolo (MaXhosa by Laduma) and Silvia Binggeli, editor-in-chief of the magazine Annabelle. Big thank you to Dr. Michaela Oberhofer and Daniela Müller from Museum Rietberg Zürich and Ola Shobowale.