The Handspring Puppet Company at Aspire Art

more than a year ago
Founded in 1981, South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, led by Artistic Director Adrian Kohler and Executive Producer Basil Jones, has become one of the most influential companies of its kind in the world.

On November 30, 2021 art lovers and admirers of the company's exceptional puppetry have the opportunity to own a piece of Handspring Puppet Company history as a unique collection of 26 artworks collected by Kohler and Jones go under the hammer at Aspire Art Auctions live auction. Ahead of the auction the collection is on display from Nov 23 to Nov 30 as part of a pre-auction exhibition at the new Aspire Art Auctions gallery at 32 Bolton Road in Rosebank. With a gallery space Aspire Auctions is a great addition to the art district of Rosebank.  
Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of The Handspring Puppet Company with a puppet from War Horse

The celebrated Handspring Puppet Company has presented work in over 30 countries. They received critical acclaim in 2007 for their hit play War Horse which premiered at London's Royal National Theatre and later went on a 12-year global tour. Most recently they have drawn the world's attention to the refugee crisis with the complex and ambitious 'Little Amal' project. Little Amal (meaning 'hope' in Arabic) is a 3.5 metre-tall puppet of a young Syrian refugee girl that has now travelled 8,000 km from Syria through Europe on its way to the recent COP26 talks in Glasgow. 

The works on sale at Aspire Art Auction's November 30 sale have been collected by Kohler and Jones over more than 30 years and represent their creative, personal and professional journeys.
Tumi Nkopane, KwaThema, Springs, Johannesburg by Zanele Muholi. Estimate from R150,000

Deeply respected within the South African art community, the pair have formed a close relationship with several of the country's most famous artists, particularly William Kentridge with whom they collaborated on the production of the 1997 performance Ubu and the Truth Commission. Dedicated to raising a voice against the discrimination facing the LGBT community, works by acclaimed activist-artists such as Clive van der Berg and Zanele Muholi also form part of the collection on sale, as do works by their famous art school peers Simon Stone, Marlene Dumas and photographer Billy Monk. 

Significantly, the collection includes a number of works that directly influenced The Handspring Puppet Company's distinctive style. These include drawings by the late great Dumile Feni, a velvet corkwood articulated sculpture Skeleton by Dr. Putuma Seoka and a historical colour lithograph titled Head of a giraffe by French explorer, Francois Le Vaillant that was the inspiration for the giraffe puppet from Tall Horse (2004). 
Skeleton by Dr. Phutuma Seoka. Estimate from R30,000

Online Talk with Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones

𝘈 𝘊𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘑𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘺: 𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘏𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘴𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘗𝘶𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘵 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘯𝘺 
𝗔 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝘂𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗔𝗱𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗞𝗼𝗵𝗹𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗕𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗹 𝗝𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀

Join Sarah Sinisi in conversation with Handspring’s Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones as they unpack their approach to collecting, what inspired them to acquire particular pieces, the personal stories behind the works and how the art has influenced Handspring’s creative output.

ZOOM 𝗪𝗘𝗕𝗜𝗡𝗔𝗥 𝗜𝗗: 987 0566 6347
𝗣𝗔𝗦𝗦𝗪𝗢𝗥𝗗: 176806

Exhibition and live auction

View the pre-auction exhibition at the Aspire Art Auctions Gallery at 32 Bolton Road from Nov 23-30, open daily from 09:00-17:00. The live auction takes place on Tue Nov 30 from 18:00.

How to bid at an Aspire Art auction

This auction is happening live at the Aspire Art Auctions showroom in Rosebank. To place a bid you first need to register an account on Click the user icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen and complete the ‘Create My Account’ form. Once you have activated your account you will be able to register for upcoming sales directly online at the Upcoming Auctions page and place pre-auction bids. You can also bid in real-time at live auctions via the website's platform Aspire Live or join in the thrill of the chase at the showroom. 

Browse the auction and find out more about registering and bidding with Aspire Art auctions here.


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