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Southern Guild Cape Town: Birch, Houndekpinkou, Fani Exhibitions

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Southern Guild Cape Town has launched a trio of captivating solo exhibitions featuring Adam Birch, King Houndekpinkou, and Madoda Fani, showcasing a diverse array of ceramic and wood Design Gallery. These exhibitions, open until August 22nd, delve into themes of materiality, cultural fusion, and identity, inviting viewers to explore the unique artistic journeys of each artist.

Adam Birch: Like Something Almost Being Said
Adam Birch’s exhibition, “Like Something Almost Being Said,” presents a collection of functional timber sculptures meticulously hand-sculpted from locally felled trees. Drawing from over two decades as an arborist, Birch’s practice intimately engages with the materiality of wood. His sculptures, characterized by soft curves and organic forms, emerge seamlessly from the natural contours of the timber, bypassing traditional joinery techniques. Each piece invites viewers into a dialogue about the inherent beauty and lifecycle of wood.
“My work as an arborist and artist are intertwined,” Birch explains, “I approach each sculpture with a deep understanding of the wood’s grain, density, and structural balance, honed through years of dismantling trees.”
Using chainsaws as his primary tool, Birch transforms the wood with a method he describes as both intense and unconventional. “Chainsaws are typically designed for clean cuts,” he notes, “but I’ve learned to coax them into creating fluid, organic shapes that push the boundaries of the material.”
The title of Birch’s exhibition, inspired by Philip Larkin’s poem “The Trees,” reflects on themes of mortality and renewal, resonating deeply with his practice. “Each sculpture,” Birch muses, “is crafted from timber that would have been discarded, embodying a renewed purpose and beauty.”
Birch’s studio, located outdoors near the coast, influences his creative design studio process, allowing him to work in harmony with the elements. “Weather plays a significant role,” he shares, “I’ve learned to embrace its unpredictability as part of the artistic journey.”

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King Houndekpinkou: Six Prayers
King Houndekpinkou’s “Six Prayers” showcases a series of large-scale ceramic sculptures that blend Japanese and West African cultural influences. Inspired by his experiences in Japan and his Beninese heritage, Houndekpinkou’s work embodies a syncretic approach, fusing ancient spiritual practices with contemporary ceramic techniques. Each sculpture, crafted during his residency in Cape Town, explores the interplay of form, color, and texture, offering a sensory exploration of ritualistic objects.
“Ceramics,” Houndekpinkou reflects, “have always been more than objects to me. They embody cultural narratives and spiritual practices that transcend time and geography.”
His creative process involves shaping vessels on the potter’s wheel and adding intricate textures layer by layer, creating art design that evoke a sense of movement and life. “Each piece,” he explains, “is a journey of self-discovery and spiritual exploration, echoing the ceremonial traditions of both my Japanese mentors and Beninese ancestors.”
Houndekpinkou’s sculptures are imbued with symbolic meanings, reflecting his belief in the spiritual essence of everyday objects. “I aim,” he says, “to infuse each piece with a vitality that resonates with viewers, inviting them to reconsider the objects that surround us.”

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Madoda Fani: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Madoda Fani’s exhibition, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” reimagines Black masculinity through a series of detailed ceramic works. Inspired by his upbringing in South Africa and influenced by his grandfather and father, both strong figures in his life, Fani’s sculptures challenge stereotypes and celebrate the resilience of Black men. Central to his exhibition is the Primus stove, a symbol of everyday life and community in South African townships.
“My sculptures,” Fani explains, “are a homage to the men who shaped my worldview—my grandfather, a community leader and healer, and my father, a creative soul who inspired my artistic journey.”
His works capture the tenderness and strength inherent in Black masculinity, portraying intimate moments and personal narratives. “The Primus stove,” Fani reflects, “represents more than a cooking utensil—it symbolizes community, creativity, and the shared experiences that bind us together.”
Fani’s artistic process is deeply introspective, weaving personal memories with broader cultural narratives. “Through my sculptures,” he says, “I aim to challenge perceptions and celebrate the multifaceted identities of Black men, reshaping their representation in art.”

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