Exhibition casts a 21st-century light on the age-old material of bronze
Southern Guild and Bronze Age Studio present Foundry Proof, a group show exploring the versatility of bronze in contemporary design, from 20 September until the end of 2018 at GUILD in the Silo District.
“Bronze is a material to live with – tactile, warm and transformative, with the comforting knowledge that it will last generations,” says Julian McGowan, co-founder of Southern Guild.
Joining Julian as co-curator of Foundry Proof are Otto du Plessis and Charles Haupt of Bronze Age Studio, in celebration of the close working relationship the gallery and studio have enjoyed over the past 10 years.
Otto, a classically trained sculptor, opened Bronze Age Foundry in Simonstown in 1997. Incorporating a gallery and artist residency, it nurtured the careers of many young bronze artists who apprenticed there. Charles joined in 2005 to help start a design studio and the pair then moved their operation to Woodstock, where the foundry and its adjoining gallery became one of the neighbourhood’s focal points of creativity. They regularly produced work by artists such as William Kentridge, David Brown, Brett Murray and Wim Botha, and kept their doors open so that curious onlookers could witness the casting process. Around the same time, Julian was building Southern Guild as a collection of limited-edition design pieces unlike anything the South African industry had seen before and from the get-go, bronze featured heavily.
Together, they began to foster a new regard for bronze as a modern material equally suited to furniture, lighting, functional design and sculpture. Through its affiliation with Southern Guild, Bronze Age added international designers to its list of clients, producing work for the US-based Haas Brothers and Misha Kahn. Today, Bronze Age Foundry is under new ownership but Otto and Charles continue to run Bronze Age Studio, where new pieces are conceptualised, sculpted and worked on before being cast.
Foundry Proof will feature work by some of the country’s leading artists working in bronze, such as Dylan Lewis, Guy du Toit and Conrad Botes, as well as designers from the Southern Guild stable such as Stanislaw Trzebinski, and Charles and Otto themselves.
“Because of its strength, bronze allows you to achieve a level of delicacy and detail far superior to other materials,” says Otto. “I love its versatility – bronze is durable, malleable and luxurious.”