It’s a map of Africa but not as you would usually know it. From a distance it resembles the texture of oyster mushrooms, their delicate fluted forms cast into whorls of soft colour. Up close you can make out the words that have combined to create the map, and the pages of books that have been delicately folded and glued together to create it.
This artwork “Africa Reinvented” has earned Keri Muller her title as the “book artist” or as Google’s search terms locate her, “Cape Town’s origami expert”. Muller didn’t get to her art by a conventional path and she describes herself more as a “maker” of stuff. It sounds like trendy nomenclature but it’s a fitting description as her work ranges from folding paper to designing with found objects, graphic design, illustration and even jewellery-making.
Muller studied interior design but managed to last for only a year working in that field. “I found everyone to be terribly hung up on scatter cushions,” she says, a fixation she just didn’t share. She went off traveling and fell in love with tourism, coming back to work in marketing and product development for tour operators representing East Africa. Then three years ago she moved to Mozambique, and she says she came back with “a much bigger appreciation of the fact that every moment of one’s life does count and you can’t fritter it away being 60 percent content.” That’s when she started making stuff. “Because I couldn’t bear to go back to office life, it became my major motivation for wanting to work for myself”, she says. Her efforts snowballed into a new business.
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