We had (and still have!) good friends in Singapore who’d been expats longer than us at the time. It was already their second assignment. I remember entering their house for the first time and being in awe. There was so much artwork, such beautiful mahogany furniture! Unique paintings, masks, and statues from all over the world, or so it seemed to me. It made our house full of sensible Ikea-type desks and shelves we’d accumulated during and after our graduate school years seem completely boring and uninspired.
Since then we’ve acquired our own share of beautiful things, each and every one with a history if its own. The rice-bed-cum-coffee table (which Noisette went looking for in Indonesia, because we had taken too long to debate the one we had seen in Singapore and it had been sold from under our noses) is especially dear to our hearts. It is also especially cursed by each and every moving crew who had to pack and carry it since then.
Being an expat gives you so much more exposure to the different cultures of the world and you gain an appreciation and personal connection to their various expressions in art. Even if you find a beautiful piece while travelling, it’s usually impossible or at least very expensive to transport it back, whereas an expat assignment typically comes with a 40-foot container attached to it.
Africa in particular is full of beautiful and relatively inexpensive art. My favorites are the wood and stone carvings, but also the welded metal animals. Our only problem is that even with a 40-foot container we’re running out of space. We will have to cross that bridge when we get to it. But until then we will be busy browsing places like the Rosebank Rooftop Market here in Joburg and keep our eyes open on upcoming travels to Mozambique and Zanzibar!