‘I think the most extreme legal thing I’ve done for my sneaker obsession was going to Tokyo this year for two weeks of sneaker-hunting’. with financial gain – it is an emotionally driven action, often with people collecting objects they can connect with positively and emotionally at particular times in their lives’. And before it starts to sound as if collecting is a guys-only club, I feel I must include a confession. I once had a sort of Martha Stewart inclination for teapots – enamel, ceramic, porcelain, bamboo, stainless steel, etc. I might have had around 20 at one stage. I find the ritual of tea drinking more suited to my temperament than this whole business of running-with-coffee-cup-in-hand urgency, but other than that, there was no real motivation for it. Teapots are just really pretty. After once trapping one too many guests in the kitchen during a festive cocktail or dinner party, always with a few shamefully punchline-free anecdotes about the collection, I quickly gave up the pursuit as a sincere apology to them all.
Anthea Pokroy’s collection definitely makes for more entertaining dinner conversation. She collects gingers. Yes, as a self-proclaimed ‘Ginger Collector’, the artist who lives in Joburg collects redheads through pictures documenting their ‘gingerness’. According to a video talk posted on nicework.co.za, she’s even created a ‘Ginger Manifesto’ that encourages gingers to have children with one another to keep the ginger gene pool pure. So far, she has thousands of portrait photos from around the world in her database. It’s her way of highlighting the legitimacy of the ‘community’, which still gets ridiculed today. She collects gingers as a way to fight against their discrimination and accompanying stereotypes. Over a period of two-and-half years, she took over five hundred photos of redheaded men, women and children, locally and internationally. And the collection is growing as people learn about her from word of mouth and contact her to be ‘collected’ too. A ginger herself, what intrigued her was ‘an appreciation of the unique and romantic colour palette of a redhead’. And it was a way to connect with herself and others and to explore systems of inclusion and separation. She spent many hours sourcing the gingers for her collection – she stalked people in bars, shops, clubs, doctors’ rooms, shops and on the street. She once spotted someone while driving, pulled over, jumped out and approached them to take part. Anthea’s also made a trip to Breda, in the Netherlands for Redhead Day to gather more subjects. Her collection is certainly keeping people connected to the world around them.★
IMAGES: SUPPLIED, SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
for some of the biggest brands in South Africa. He says he’s one of those guys that really doesn’t like a lot of things but when he does find something he likes, he tends to develop a ‘ride or die’ mentality. He calls it the ‘Pursuit of Freshness’. ‘It’s a Cape Flats thing. We always look at what shoes people are wearing, so you can’t come out here “weak” if you want to be taken seriously.’ He’s been curating his collection since he was a kid. ‘I’ve sourced rare pairs from all over the world, especially older models from the late ’90s, which I couldn’t get when I was a kid.’ ‘I think the most extreme legal thing I’ve done for my sneaker obsession was going to Tokyo this year for two weeks of sneaker-hunting. If you’re into sneakers and streetwear, Tokyo is the place to go. I had heard of some mythical vintage stores with crazy stock rooms; there weren’t even many pictures of them online but I decided to go anyway. I think I had a buying average of nearly three pairs a day over two weekends because I found these rare vintage gems all over. I went stupid! Good thing I developed a taste for noodles ‘cause that’s pretty much all I can eat for the next six months.’ His passion and knowledge is paying off in other ways too. It’s led to a great, long-term, multifaceted relationship with Nike, which is very rare for a non-athlete. He’s also worked on projects with other sneaker brands, which is a dream come true for him. A streetwear label ‘They Know’ developed with business partner Paul Ward sold out within hours of launching and with no marketing. I asked him to count how many pairs he owns. ‘I’m not sure of the exact number but I have a few pairs of the rare Air Yeezys that go for between R30 000 and R50 000 a pair.’ Who said that collecting sneakers couldn’t become as lucrative as collecting art? Quoted in The Telegraph in an article called ‘Why Do We Love To Collect?’ psychologist Dr Rebecca Spelman says that ‘for most of us, being a collector has nothing to do