It is evident when meeting Michael Chandler that he has a great depth of knowledge and appreciation of all things aesthetic. At Cape Grace you’ll be able to find a few of his unusual art pieces, which range from ceramic phrenology heads, Cape Dutch gable bookends, historically inspired jewellery and beaded Chinese pots, all supplied via Imagenius.
As the name implies, Imagenius find creative geniuses and Michael Chandler can be classed amongst them. Originally from the Eastern Cape, he has adopted Cape Town to such an extent that his abiding passion is early Cape furniture, ceramics and the colony’s domestic history. His ambition is to contribute towards a revival of Cape decorative arts and he rates Cape Grace, with its historically-inspired décor and collection of original Cape artefacts and furniture, amongst his favourite places.
But how did Michael Chandler gain such broad artistic insight? Natural talent without a doubt, aided by academic studies in Art History and a fascinating Honours Degree dissertation on the ‘Hidden Iconography of Tombstones’. This took him all over the world where he gained a deeper appreciation of art and style. Then, working at Stephan Welz and Sothebys cataloguing fine and decorative arts for auction, he learnt to understand the evolution of style and taste.
A culmination of his current work, passion and interests is a new shop at 53 Church Street, Cape Town, between Ashbey’s Auction Galleries and Allan Lutge Gallery. It doesn’t have a name as Michael prefers a visual icon, so it will probably be distinguished by something unusual hanging outside the door. The shop is an eclectic mix of art and design created by himself and other artists, with the core focus on integrity of materials, local craftsmanship and the spirit that is imbued into each piece, which Michael says is, “completely lacking in mass produced, imported wares.”
Michael’s passion for the early Cape is easily recognisable in the work that he produces today, such as cameo pendants, cuff-links and necklaces inspired by Oriental blue and white porcelain brought into the early Cape by both European and Oriental ships. Blue and white ceramics have never gone out of fashion and Michael predicts that we will see a revival of all things blue and white this year.