MONKEYBIZ is dedicated to reviving the tradition of African Beadwork,taking the love and knowledge that is passed down, over the centuries, from mother to child and becoming a bridge from traditional bead works into contemporary artworks.
The crowning achievement of MONKEYBIZ is that it recognises and develops the artistic ability of people who have never had the opportunity to express themselves through art.
Each piece is designed and made by beaders in their own patterns and colours, and although there is a standard range of animal types when each artist makes her own animal every piece becomes unique.Monkeybiz South Africa
Some of the artists are more experimental and adventurous and therefore new animals and methods join the Monkeybiz range. On the reverse of every tag the artists sign their names.
Monkeybiz uses discarded off-cuts from clothing manufacturers as the filler material for the beaded animals and from time to time has donations of beads. The Monkeybiz empowerment approach is remarkable because it encourages the woman to have dignity and pride in their work. It's based on the philosophy of making artists self-sufficient, to understand business and to take responsibility. ....
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.Monkeybiz South Africa
Word of mouth spread of this wonderful supportive and empowering project and the register grew to over 450 beaders. It has received much international acclaim and its colourful critters regularly appear at international trade shows and in home and décor magazines. Celebrity collectors include Samuel L.Jackson, Donna Karan – who has sold pieces in her New York DKNY store - Halle Berry and the Dalia Llama.
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.
Shop our favourites
Each month we select a number of pieces to showcase the diversity and quality of our art. Here is just a selection of what we offer, all of which you can see in our shop.