Artist Trevor Stuurman’s Joburg exhibition: A Place Called Home

Posted on 31 May 2022 By Anita Froneman

Home. There is something special about this simple word that, somehow, is magnified only by the physical space it represents, writes Ryan Enslin, who meets award-winning visual artist Trevor Stuurman for a walkabout and consideration of his first South African solo exhibition, A Place Called Home.

With this concept of ‘home’ in mind, I was rather keen to take in visual artist Trevor Stuurman’s first South African solo exhibition, titled A Place Called Home, in Joburg. For those not in the know, let me bring you up to speed. Kimberley-born Trevor was voted as one of Forbes‘ ’30 under 30’ top creatives and a Time magazine Next Generation Leader in 2021. He first made his name as Elle Style Reporter in 2012. With me? Good.

Narrated through Trevor’s lens, the exhibition is an expression of home. In so doing, he set out to craft a place that allows him the sanctity to share. And be creative. I spent some time with Trevor walking through this contemporary space, a front-row seat if you will, into the inspiration that informs what you and I see at his showing.

The house hosting the exhibition is in Parktown West. Parktown is one of Joburg’s oldest suburbs, and most houses date back to the early 1900s. The drive down the tree-lined street set the tone for what I was about to experience. Entering the home, I met Trevor in the dining room, a room inspired by Senegal and his work in that country.

It initially appears to be painted black, but closer inspection reveals the room to be a deep brown with a creamy caramel undertone. In his characteristic style, Trevor challenges the viewer to take a closer look, beneath the surface, right from the outset. This motif is continued in his black and white photographs on the walls, showcasing Senegalese hair design. ‘Hair speaks to connectivity,’ says Trevor, a concept I notice throughout the exhibition. A simple ladder placed on the dining table continues this expression, and a desire for a sense of connectivity to flow from his first showing.

Our conversation becomes animated as we talk about colour. If you’ve seen Trevor’s work, you will know he is a big proponent of it. And he has used colour in a variety of ways throughout the exhibition. The formal lounge explodes with colours, in contrast to the opening monotone statement of the dining room. The lounge is dedicated to Lagos, with bright, impactful images from Arise Fashion Week shot in the African portraiture-style. The images create an inclusive space, imparting a sense of shared belonging.

But it’s in the narrow bathroom that I experience a true explosion of colour, albeit a monotone of deep red. Trevor has custom-designed a wallpaper, the repeating pattern of which harks back to the days of family crests. The Stuurman crest he has designed features an Ndebele hut, flanked by palm trees and a flamingo, wings outstretched. ‘Flamingos are flamboyant,’ saysTrevor. ‘I find them exotic and tropical at the same time.’ I quite enjoy the flamingos and their playful reference to his sense of style. Two classic Singer sewing machines, inscribed rather with Stuurman, complete the design.

I am intrigued by his choice of the rather specific deep red; Trevor tells me this was inspired by the colour of the stoep at his family home in Kimberley. I think many people will relate to this, a reminder of their family homes.

Trevor uses colour throughout the rooms to communicate his take on their function. A dusty pink adorns the walls, floors and ceiling of the kitchen, complemented by a bright red Big Love neon sign. ‘The kitchen is the heart of the home,’ he says, ‘the room where it all happens.’ Here, he has placed images of fine crockery displayed by bejewelled hands, starting the conversation around traditional Sunday lunches, so celebrated in our society.

Sunday Best functions will be held at the property in celebration of the concept of Trevor’s exhibition – inclusivity and extending our current fractured conversation. Keep an eye out on the socials for details of what will be a celebration of food, art and music. And good conversation with like-minded people.

But it’s in the final room I enter, one dedicated to Kimberley, where the exhibition comes together. ‘The Kimberley Room is the genesis of it all,’ says Trevor, a note of deep pride resounding in his voice. It is simply decorated with two photographs of the Big Hole and a converted kist for seating, flanked by a jewel-encrusted mirror on the left wall. Looking into the mirror recreates the sensation of looking into the Big Hole, while the kist conversion speaks into the space in which we store our most valued possessions.

‘I want people to come into this room, take it in and feel treasured,’ he says. This room is painted in black, thereby removing distractions that colour could so easily offer.

When I first met Trevor, this is what he told me: ‘I am because of Kimberley.’ Pressing him on this, he told me he experienced Kimberley as a sort of blank canvas. ‘As a creative, you need a place that is silent and safe, a blank canvas, and this is what Kimberley was for me, a safe space where I could express myself.’

And he has indeed achieved just that, starting his exhibition with his story in the current day and travelling back in time to uncover its origins.

A Place Called Home is a collaboration between Trevor Stuurman and Weylandts furniture and homeware store. It runs from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 26 Rhodes Avenue, Parktown West, until 19 June 2022.

Tickets can be booked here.

Follow more of Ryan’s adventures in and around Joburg here.


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