I’m Manoushka Kraal, originally from Amsterdam. My family is a wonderfully diverse collection of Artist, Journalists, Feminist Advocates, Musicians and Opera Singers. So “naturally“ after high school I went to Theater School and worked as a Theatre Actress in Europe for close to 10 years.
Life never moves in straight lines so in 2008 I moved to Durban. I initially worked for an NGO, that was partly focusing on traditional storytelling and the theatrical aspect of that. Soon my main role shifted within the NGO towards product development, which intertwined narrative and storytelling into the beautiful handcrafted pieces we were sourcing and developing.
With the NGO I travelled extensively through out the province. I totally fell in love with Durban and KwaZulu-Natal; It’s difficult not to. After a couple of years my time at the NGO reached a natural departure point. I set out to start my own independent range of products that weave story into beautiful objects.
I decided to use the popular African Clonette doll as a departure point to develop a figure. Clonettes are known as little angels that will look after your loved ones and guide them through life.
Modern Clonettes are mass produced from blow moulded plastic, but are inspired by dolls that originally were made from wood. I wanted to transform them back to where they originated.
Each one of the original figures is hand-carved from Jacaranda wood, from which a mould is made and then resin composites produced. From the initial success I decided to give the original figure Thando, brothers and sisters.
After a while, our Clonette inspired family grew and evolved quite a bit... incorporating iconic African animals and developing an aesthetic that is distinct from the original inspiration.