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U-Boat U-51 Gold Crown Arrow

“A fossil is the earliest photograph of man.” Forgive me if I’ve misquoted, but what a beautiful phrase and concept. I found it particularly poignant when I saw the Taung fossil at the recent Life of Bone exhibition housed in the Origins Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand. Estimated to have been around three years of age at her death, this fossilised child’s skull is about 2,5-million years old. Discovered in the 1920s, it is a mesmerising sight, a ‘photograph’ of a world long past. The prehistoric world the fossil symbolises fires the imagination. More so, as it basked in the support of artworks that were exhibited alongside it. Works by Gerhard Marx, Joni Brenner and Karel Nel all resonated with the inspiration of the skull, and responded to its symbolic meaning. Marx’s work was striking, mixing skull with rib cage, root system and galaxy. Nel’s huge works, which contain the historic sands of different geographic sites, are powerful, and Brenner, who conceptualised the project, presented a poignant offering of skulls re-imagined. Also in my week of bone, the Palaeontological Science Trust (Past) unveiled their Scatterlings of Africa project. Described as the African hub for origin science, the trust launched an outreach theatre production, which ostensibly explores what it means to be human in the 21st century. ReVerse is directed by the quirky and talented Sylvaine Strike, and features Greg Melvil-Smith and Craig Morris. Jay Naidoo, patron of Past, said at the opening, “there is nothing that divides us, except what’s in our head. We have a shared origin; it is a cause, which will leave a legacy for our children.” Belinda Bozzoli, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Wits, said of Life of Bone, “the artist teases the scientist’s desire”, and so the artworks engage with the story of our past, flirting with the possibilities, not just of our past, but of our future as well.

Life of Bone, on at Origins Centre until May 31, Individual bookings for ReVerse can be made through Andrea Leenen at the Palaeontological Scientific Trust (Past) on (011) 717 6668 or Michelle Constant is the CEO of Business and Arts SA (BASA) and presenter of SAfm Lifestyle (Saturdays 9am-12pm)





Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg presents an arresting array of galleries and independent establishments. One of these stands out with its blue walls and wrought iron gates, inviting you to wander inside a treasure trove of alluring exoticism. The store is Hadeda, a space that specialises in lighting and mirrors, with plenty of striking ornaments along the way. Founded out of Des Armstrong’s home in Dunkeld 21 years ago, the concept remains to provide unique products that combine fantasy and function to the way we live. Armstrong was inspired to source and sell South American goods after visiting friends in Mexico and realising that South American and South African cultures, lifestyles and aesthetics were similar and could relate to each other. Having travelled extensively around South America, she has met a far-reaching network of crafters, most of whom have been working with her since the inception of her business. With products coming from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and Columbia, she has opportunities to share ideas with the crafters, learning from what they do, and working with them to reinterpret concepts and create new styles. It helps that her Mexican business partner is there to interpret along the way as sometimes the greatest work comes from very primitive situations. Having started with selling oven to table pewter dishes, Hadeda now stocks a whole range of lifestyle pieces created by the South American crafters or handmade in SA, to sell in her Johannesburg and Cape Town stores.

What is astounding on entering the Johannesburg space are the colours — a mix of red, green, blue and yellow-muralled walls, some with depictions of Frida Kahlo, and the objects, which fill up every available space. Mirrors, some gilded, some framed in tiles or layered with mirrored glass, mount the walls. There are rooms full of brass lanterns, monumental chandeliers and lighting displays, as well as hand-painted glass trays, puppets, cushions and clothing made out of fabrics that are exclusive to Hadeda in SA. Each piece in the store tells a story, and Armstrong can narrate its origins and symbolism. These pieces add authentic character and depth to a space, while always maintaining a function. Armstrong explains that the products she sources are not souvenirs. They do not have any elements of kitsch but are unique design pieces that complement one’s taste. Armstrong, who worked in a corporate environment before opening Hadeda, has a flair for exploring the unfamiliar and connecting with people. She believes she has such a varying clientele because the store provides something unique for everyone. For her, Hadeda presents an opportunity to share the wonderful South American culture, which is steeped in history, colour, music and warm people.

Hadeda, 151 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg, (011) 788 9859. 3 Wandel Street, Dunkley Square, Gardens, Cape Town, (021) 465 8620,

54 JUNE 2011, WANTED

“I’m not interested in following trends. I’m not a ‘follower’ at all in fact. I much prefer to set my own trends. All my watches come from the same hand, the same head, the same source of passion.” Step into the world of Italo Fontana, creator of U-Boat watches, and you immediately leave behind the somewhat dour Swiss watch industry in favour of something far less predictable and far more, well, Italian. Inspired by an original set of designs by his grandfather, Ilvo Fontana, and first created for the Italian navy in 1942, the unfailingly louche Fontana has spent the past decade developing a range of oversized watches characterised by their legibility, limited production runs and classic aesthetic influences. Proudly Made in Italy, the U-51 was UBoat’s big new release at the BaselWorld 2010 watch fair and it made a triumphant return at this year’s show in a revised format, known as the Gold Crown Arrow. The generous 51mm case houses a Swiss-made chronograph movement with a date display at 9 o’clock alongside the left mounted 18k yellow gold winding crown secured in place by a screw-in cap that renders the watch especially watertight. When combined with the gold chronograph pushers these elements add an extra 8,6mm to the total diameter of the piece and 36,6g of gold all in all. Less obvious perhaps, but no less worthy of mention, is the dial. Made up of two separate watch faces laid one atop the other, there is a pleasing depth and texture to this particular part of the watch that in most instances is left purely onedimensional. A hand-finished alligator strap with a gold personalised tongue completes the look. It’s then up to you whether you ever let it get wet or not.

Case: 51mm stainless steel Features: limited edition of 99 units Movement: left-aligned, modified chronograph Price: R150 000 (available from July) Distributor: Luks Group, 087 943 5390

BDFM Wanted, watch column, June 2011, U-Boat  
BDFM Wanted, watch column, June 2011, U-Boat  

U-Boat watch review