Reconstitution Off The Ground by Marie Fricout, with Invention Ramaisa, Wesley Hlongwane, Nyakallo Motloung, Halfa Pictcha.
Reconstitution Off The Ground by Marie Fricout, with Invention Ramaisa, Wesley Hlongwane, Nyakallo Motloung, Halfa Pictcha. Bag Factory, 2014

The Bag Factory: An artistic alcove of cultural exchange twenty-five years in the making

Nestled between the edge of Newtown and Fordsburg, the once industrial warehouse now exists as a space of continuous cultural exchange. “You are always absorbed in a mix of cultures and experiences. The location is central, just outside of the CBD it gives you a real everyday engagement with the city and a space for reflection at the same time.” This experience of environmental interaction has influenced artists like Diana Hyslop and Blessing Ngobeni. The geographical location positions itself as the intersection between artist and city.

Initially inspired by the early Triangle and Thupelo workshops in the late 80’s – based on mutual exchange and collaboration – founders Dr. David Koloane and Robert Loder created the Bag Factory. Formed in 1991, “David & Robert wanted to recreate a permanent creative environment which would benefit artists of all races.” The notion of ‘learning through exchange’ remains at the core of its practice.

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An excess of 300 artists that have come through the Bag Factory doors in the last twenty-five years – engaging in studio practice, workshops as well as residency programmes. An extensive calendar has been developed to meet the needs of local and international artists. “[The Bag Factory] now transcends its early notions into national and international projects focused on the supporting and developing artists in South Africa.”

An ‘open door’ studio policy ensures a level accessibility – artists and the larger public are able to frequent the space regularly. “We encourage younger artists to visit regularly and access the wealth of information that the artists have.” The notion of access is a crucial element to the process of cultural exchange within the space. Education and shared knowledge are also at the core of the organization. The David Koloane & Reinhold Cassirer award programmes, residencies and artist outreach projects articulate and enable these ideals to manifest tangibly.

On the eve of its anniversary the space boasts a full house, in many ways symbolic of its success. Artists on Residency include Lady Skollie, Barclay’s L’Atelier Merit Award Winner (2015) Gideon Appah, Sheekha Kalan and Ausuka Nirasawa (Japan). We also have our David Koloane Mentorship Award, which will be featured at the Jhb Art Fair in September with finalists, Shenaz Mohomed, Minenkulu Ngoyi and Carmen Ford.

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