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Gavin Rajah collaborates with Zanele Muholi on a new homewear collection

Zanele Muholi for the new Somnyama range. Picture: Supplied.

Zanele Muholi for the new Somnyama range. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jul 11, 2022


Acclaimed artist-activist Zanele Muhuli and Cape Town-based fashion designer Gavin Rajah have partnered to launch a homeware collection inspired by Muholi’s ongoing Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness) series.

The Somnyama Ngonyama series was first exhibited at various galleries in South Africa in 2015. It then went to the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Seattle Art Museum (USA) and the Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong.

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This year, it will tour across Europe at institutions in Paris, Berlin and Umeå in Sweden.

Rajah, who is drawn to Muholi’s practice, wanted to use this series to translate latent patterns into woven textiles and create a homeware collection around them.

The new Somnyama collection by Gavin Rajah and Zanele Muholi. Picture: Supplied.

The patterns are splashed into cushions, carpets, throws, curtains and candles, forming some of the products of this new homeware range titled “Somnyama”.

“I was never interested in replicating Muholi’s works. The prints and other products are an extension and diffusion of their art,” he said.

Muholi, who is big on collaborating with other creatives, sees this partnership as an opportunity for black queer people to come together to create new things.

“I had always been working with fabrics. In many of my works, I have material draped over me. Gavin had seen something in my images that I hadn’t thought of, and he is not compromising the original works,” Muholi added.

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The collection, which will be dropping in late July, will only have 100 pieces per product.