TINTIN in Africa at Dylan Thomaz header
TINTIN in Africa, curated by Dylan Thomaz, featuring Maria Magdalena van Wyk & Sarah Benjamin-Groll

Opening this week at Studio Dylan Thomaz in Cape Town is a fun-filled exhibition bursting with nostalgia: TINTIN in Africa. Featuring the skilled work of illustrator Maria Magdalena van Wyk and ceramicist Sarah Benjamin-Groll, it’s a must-see.

With his trusty sidekick, Snowy the dog, Tintin’s adventures around the world are a cherished memory for a certain generation who poured over the comic novels, later animated into television and film projects – most recently by Steven Spielberg in 2011. Written originally in French by cartoonist Georges Remi (1907–1983), who wrote under the pen name Hergé, Tintin’s escapades have sold over 200 million copies and have been translated into over 70 languages. Tintin is a global icon.

So it was with immense pleasure and excitement that DECO heard that our talented friend Dylan Thomaz was bringing the magic of this trusty Belgian reporter and his friends to South Africa. Opening at Studio Dylan Thomaz this week, TINTIN in Africa is a curated exhibition featuring the work of young contemporary artists recreating this nostalgic world of mystery and adventure in mixed media. We asked Dylan to tell us more…

Tell us a little about your new studio – what have you been up to since the opening?
STUDIO DYLAN THOMAZ is a platform I founded as a manifestation of my passion to create well-curated and inspiring spaces. At the newly-launched space in the city centre, I collaborate with artists and designers and co-develop a range of pieces inspired by their work. The commercial arm of STUDIO DYLAN THOMAZ practices the art of curation and consults to various clients in the design and interiors industry.

Tell us about the TINTIN in Africa exhibition – what can we expect?
I’m the BIGGEST fan of Tintin – I visit the Tintin store in London every time I’m there! So when it came to curating an exhibition, Tintin was on the top of my list. On my journey, I met two wonderfully talented artists in their own right: ceramicist Sarah Benjamin-Groll from Sessi Bee and illustrator Magdalena van Wyk. Both artists have produced pieces of Tintin in their own individual handwriting.

I’m the BIGGEST fan of Tintin – I visit the Tintin store in London every time I’m there.

How did Magdalena & Sarah first get involved?
Really, just through chance meetings initially – I met Sarah Benjamin-Groll at a friend’s wedding and Magdalena I met through another artist friend.

What is it about Tintin that has captured the imagination of these artists?
For Magdalena, she is Afrikaans and thought it would be the best opportunity to get Tintin to wear a ‘Safari gear’ and ride an ostrich (!) and for Sarah, her ceramics evoked her childhood memories.

When can DECO readers see the exhibition?
We open on First Thursdays, this month – Thursday 2 July – and the exhibition will run until 31 July 2015.

FEATURED ARTIST | Ceramics by Sarah Benjamin-Groll

TINTIN in Africa ceramics by Sarah Benjamin-Groll
Central St. Martins graduate, Sarah Benjamin-Groll, created TINTIN ceramics for the exhibition

Sarah is a British ceramicist from London, a graduate of the prestigious Central St. Martins and the brainchild behind Sessi Bee ceramics. Now based in Cape Town, we caught up with Sarah to find out how she got involved in the TINTIN in Africa exhibition for Studio Dylan Thomaz…

Tell us about you and how you came to be involved in TINTIN in Africa?
I studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in London but only discovered ceramics when I moved to Cape Town five years ago. I fell in love with the medium and especially enjoy making characters, either in bowls or as standing sculptures. I try to create pieces that I find humorous and hope others will too. I luckily met Dylan Thomaz at a wedding recently and we got got speaking about his amazing new project which he then kindly invited me to take part in. 

What does Tintin mean to you?
We always had Tintin books in my house when I was growing up; we even had a little white dog called Snowy. My little brother also happens to look just like a real life version of Tintin. 

Why should DECO readers come along?
I think most people have some sort of relationship to Tintin from childhood and so will relate to the work but if people don’t then it will be a great introduction to Tintin and his friends. 

See more of Sarah’s work on her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter @SessiBee.

TINTIN in Africa - Sarah Benjamin-Groll ceramis
Handmade ceramic bowl by Sarah Benjamin-Groll, featuring Tintin and his trusty sidekick Snowy (French: Milou), a Wire Fox Terrier.
TINTIN in Africa ceramics by Sarah Benjamin-Groll
Handmade ceramic bowl by Sarah Benjamin-Groll, features the recognisable duo Thomson and Thompson (French: Dupond et Dupont). The detectives were in part based on Hergé’s father and uncle, identical twins who wore matching bowler hats while carrying matching walking sticks.

FEATURED ARTIST | Illustrations by Maria Magdalena van Wyk

TINTIN in Afrcia by Maria Magdalena van Wyk
Port Elizabeth graphic designer and illustrator, Maria Magdalena van Wyk, provides the illustrations for TINTIN in Africa

An Afrikaans girl from Port Elizabeth, Magdalena completed her Bachelor of Technology Graphic Design in 2010. Now living and working in Cape Town for the past four years, Magdalena has furthered her freelance graphic design and illustration career by using her signature aesthetic to give a visual voice to local and international brands. We asked Maria to tell us how she got involved in TINTIN in Africa

How did you get involved in the exhibition?
Dylan approached me to be the illustrator in his upcoming TINTIN in Africa group collaboration exhibition. Two people that own one of my limited edition fine art prints (artist and photographer: Gabi Lee Smit, and the owner of El Camino, Jessica Jane Jakas) referred me to Dylan while he was looking for an illustrator to join the collaboration.

We had a meeting at Dylan’s beautiful new studio at the Urban Hub and by the next day I had produced the first piece for the TINTIN in Africa exhibition. Since then we have weekly meetings to discuss the drawings and the exhibition over a sneaky glass of red wine.

Does Tintin remind you of your childhood?
The Tintin comic series holds a powerful nostalgic appeal from my childhood in memories closely related to my dad who adores the Tintin comic series as well. I am especially proud that both my parents are making their way to Cape Town to share in this exhibition with me.

The Tintin series is by far one of the most popular comics of the 20th century and I personally adore and relate to the clean, expressive drawings by Georges Remi (Hergé). I have captured the story of Tintin in modern day South Africa through humour and sophisticated satire touching on load-shedding, kleptomaniac baboons and #Zelfie’s.

The TINTIN in Africa illustrations will lead viewers through a series of adventures that is humerous yet deeply relevant to our current situation in South Africa.

Why should DECO readers check out the exhibition?
The TINTIN in Africa illustrations will lead viewers through a series of adventures that is humerous yet deeply relevant to our current situation in South Africa. There will be original artwork for sale as well as 10 collectors’ limited edition fine art prints. The exhibition space is being transformed with bold Ndebele patterns and expertly curated by Dylan Thomaz and you’ll also see a selection of beautiful ceramics featuring the key Tintin characters by Sarah Benjamin-Groll.

Visit Maria’s online shop to see more of her work or follow her on Twitter at @m_magdalena_cpt.


TINTIN in Africa – illustrations by Maria Magdalena van Wyk; ceramics by Sarah Benjamin-Groll;
curated by Dylan Thomaz

Opens Thursday 2nd July 2015 | 6PM – 9.30PM | runs until 31 July 2015

Studio Dylan Thomaz, The Urban Hub, 142 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town

FREE | Visit dylanthomaz.com or tweet @studio_dthomaz for more info.

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