‘I’m looking for a gift for my friend’…this is a line you’ll regularly hear in The Fringe Arts. But this tiny store with its chirpy window displays and bright blue gate is so much more than just a gift shop. It’s an exhibit, a showcase. It’s a collection of art and artifacts handmade in South Africa and hand picked by Thessa Bos and Chantal Louw. It’s neither an art gallery nor design shop, in fact, it’s both. Presenting items to use, to wear, to display and even to play with in a happy, relaxed environment.
It started with several pop-ups at local exhibitions as well as the V&A Waterfront. Proudly a 100% SA Art and Design Collective and competently curated by themselves, these pop-ups showcased art and designs seldom seen in one space. A space which is neither a gallery not a chain store. But in June this year the ladies decided that a permanent residence in Kloof Street is at the order of the day, making it easy to stumble upon and banishing worries of them disappearing again. Now you can pop in anytime, but do bear in mind that it’s impossible to pay a quick visit between errands. It’s simply too overwhelming. Either you won’t get to all your stops or you’ll look over half of the collection.
So what exactly is the collection? Jewellery, china, toys, art pieces, clothes and accessories. From Genevieve Motley’s wooden shaped rings, earrings, necklaces and brooches to vintage looking accessories by A Bird Named Frank. Then there’s also Skermunkil’s elegant yet playful range of silver pendants and a leather brooch collection with the cutest owls imaginable. And that’s not nearly all of it. The jewellery that is. These items are not only something to wear anytime, they’re totally collectable.
You’ll find china that looks exactly like paper cups and plates, with the detailed rim and flowery prints to homely mugs with simple yet stylish animal illustrations. The one entire window display belongs to The Whoo’s, Nicola Smith’s range of colourful owl dolls, perfect to perch around your living room. And that’s only one of the doll collections. Also check out Nicky Page’s Gwen Loves Harold (lovely).
You’ll find cosy winter things like arm warmers, slouchy beanies and scarfs from Love Lola and thickly knitted wrist cuffs and winter clutches from IsaBeaula Peep. Perfectly chunky. Then there are clothes. And gift cards. And bags in all shapes and substances. And art pieces. Also, everything Skinny Laminx, Sootcookies Creature and even nifty leather condom sleeves by Urban Africa.
So go to number 99B Kloof Street, it’s one block down from Checkers. Open daily from 10:00-17:30. Or visit The Fringe Arts on Facebook. If you like pretty things, if you like art, if you like local, you’ll love it.