HISTORY|IT STARTED SIMPLY WITH A BEADED DOLL
Back in 1999, Barbara Jackson and Shirley Fintz both, South African ceramicists and African art collectors had a “light bulb” moment. Showing a small beaded doll to a part-time student, Mathapelo Ngaka, who then took it to her mother, Makatiso, a skilled bead artist with the brief “can you do a doll that looks unique?” and Monkeybiz was born.
Word of mouth spread of this wonderful supportive and empowering project and the register grew to over 450 beaders. Against all odds, it has maintained a sustainable business and is a benchmark for non-profit organisations – Monkeybiz is defined by the fact that it has retained its creative heart.
International acclaim has followed. Known as folk art Monkeybiz pieces were snatched up by Sotherbys Contemporary Decorative arts for a sell-out exhibition in 2002. The vibrant dolls, animals and beaded pictures have enthralled shoppers and collectors in Conran Design.
Stores in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo. Donna Karan, has sold Monkeybiz craft art in her New York store DKNY. You’ll also find these iconic pieces at ABC carpet and Home, a department store that sets trends not only as a New York institution but worldwide.
It was even the subject of a short documentary, BIGGER THAN BARBIE – a tongue-in-cheek title reflecting the ambitious nature of the project.