In 2018 artist Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum was commissioned to create a full-scale mural on The Showroom’s facade, for which she had been inspired by South African writer Bessie Head (1937-1986).
Head rejected the brutality of apartheid by exiling herself to the village of Serowe in Botswana. Titled Exalt B.H. Sunstrum’s mural enveloped the facade of The Showroom with a view of Serowe’s landscape dominated by an ever-present sky, a significant element in Bessie Head’s oeuvre. Weaving in and out of this expanse of blue are Head’s words from Earth and Everything:
’I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.’
Pamela Phatismo Sunstum was born in 1980 in Mochudi, Botswana, and currently lives and works between Johannesburg, South Africa and Ontario, Canada. Her multidisciplinary practice spans installation, drawing, painting and animation and her work explores themes such as cosmology, mythology, history and science.
Pamela has recently been included in Vitamin D3: Today's Best in Contemporary Drawing published by Phaidon and Winter Light (2020) at Southbank Centre. Recent exhibitions include All My Seven Faces, CAC Cincinnati (2019); Diorama, Tiwani Contemporary (2019); Multiple Transmissions: Art in the Afropolitan Age, Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (2019); Fly Me to the Moon, Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland and Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria (2019); Women on Airplanes, The Showroom, London (2018); Artpace, San Antonio (2018); There are Mechanisms in Place, Michaelis School of Fine Art Galleries, Cape Town (2018).
In 2019 artist Simnikiwe Buhlungu was commissioned to create the second Mural on The Showroom's facade. Notes to Self (Intimate I) references strolling as a form of knowledge production and used text, textile and interactive sound installations to communicate ideas of gathering through a call and response with local communities.
Departing from an intimate methodology of walking, for Notes To Self (Intimate 1) Buhlungu questions: how do we create structural spaces and communicate ideas of gathering within architectural, urban and public restrictions? How can one make visible personal reflections and poetics in the context of enduring collective ownership? This public commission sought to pose these questions through a site-specific installation where passers-by could record their own notes to self that would be listened to, manifested, and archived as a living ecosystem of local responses.
Simnikiwe Buhlungu was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She holds a BA in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where she co-founded the collective Title in Transgression. Her practice navigates personal, trans-generational and socio-historical narratives through print and text-based mediums that often take sensory, video, sonic and installation-based forms. Buhlungu’s work has been featured in museums such as Grazer Kunstverein, Austria, and WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Belgium, where she was an artist in residence in 2018. She recently presented a project with artist Malebona Maphutse at the 2019 Bergen Assembly, Norway, and participated in the Future Assembly residency between London, Cambridge, and Lagos, Nigeria alongside Wysing Arts Centre’s Artist-in-Residence Exchange.