It’s fair to say that a visit to Montebello Design Centre may leave you a little poorer in pocket, but much richer in every other way. Nestled between age-old trees in the leafy suburb of Newlands in Cape Town, Montebello is an oasis of inspiration and creativity. It is home to a diverse collective of independent designers and artists that include sculptors, jewellers, painters, crafters and much more.
One of the innovative minds that reside at Montebello belongs to Keri Muller – an artist of ingenuitive proportions who creates legends from legends. Her piece “Africa Reinvented” is a sculpture fashioned from recycled paperback books and, in reinventing their purpose, they are infused with a new narrative. Trading under the name Simple Intrigue, her name is somewhat contrasted with the stunning sculptures she makes – they are anything but simple but rather are a labour of love executed with precision and passion (she confesses that her impetus comes from making “stuff she likes” and indeed, what is not to like!)
Her playful take on life and art extends to her signature popup playing card sculptures. It’s easy to see why these pocket-sized creations are collectable pieces that give old things new life. The influence and inspiration of Sue Blackwell’s art is evident in these pieces.
Keri’s imagination and inventiveness is not limited to sculpture and 3D artwork– she is also a master of fine-liner sketches. Some pieces are a celebration of notable quotes combined with fun, quirky illustrations and, at a time when so much that we see is created digitally, there is something wonderfully refreshing about her hand-drawn and hand-scripted quirky art. Departing from the naivety of her quirky-quote art, Keri also creates anatomical artworks in the form of fine-liner sketches that are both self-reflective and expansive at the same time. Their contemporary, unfussy feel clarifies what we think we know about life and the living, and reflect the influence of one of Keri’s inspirations – Ernst Haeckel.
One of the most compelling things about Keri is that not only is her art lovely, she is lovely too. If you are lucky enough to catch her at Montebello, you will find a friendly, straight-talking woman who instinctively avoids the metaphoric-speak that so often intimidates and confuses the would-be buyer. Her uncomplicated attitude is both infectious and inspiring.
All images by Li Protheroe and Simple Intrigue