" Art and craft intervention is one way of helping the San culture to survive in a transitional world, and to develop trading links. From the results of other San art and craft projects, art and craft has not only empowered individuals, but has been an effective way of reaching a broader audience. It promotes the voice of the San and it is a visual window into their culture, which is rapidly disappearing." Cheryl Rumbak
The Southern African San are made up of small communities spread out from the Northern Cape, Kimberley area, Namibia, Botswana and Angola.
The textile designs and the artists are from 2 main groups. The !Xun and Khwe and the !Xung and Kwagga from Namibia and Angola. These designs are a result of art development workshops facilitated by Cheryl Rumbak and the Rossing Foundadtion in 2002 aimed at identifying artists, providing basic skills training and advanced art development that were initiated in the hope of finding a sustainable source of income for the most ancient and marginalized group of people in Southern Africa. These development projects were successful in tapping into the creativity and imagery of the San, who were mostly known for their legacy of rock art. The playful images produced from linocuts and oil paintings have been sold both to international and local art collectors for the past 16 years.
The idea of translating these images onto textiles began about 10 years ago when Cheryl Rumbak developed a range of fabrics for the Kamatoka San shop at Montebello. In later years more designs were generated when Cheryl collaborated with Karin Le Roux, director of Omba Arts Trust, in Ovamboland and on the Angolan border. These designs and products are sold under the Ekoka label.
Art-I-San textiles (previously known as Ekoka textiles) were presented at the Design Indaba in 2008 and 2010 and the response was enormously positive. We will be launching new designs at Design Indaba 2013. We sell meterage and have a product range that includes cushion covers, table linen and bags. Royalties for meterage printed is paid to the artist whose images have been used. Art-I-San textiles are manufactured and printed in Cape Town, so a truly South African product. These products are IFAT approved and are managed by Omba Arts Trust in Namibia.
We print on a number of fabric weights such as cotton canvas, cotton linen, hopsack or upholstry fabric, bull denim and twill.