Posts Tagged With: Sally Scott fibre art

The Earth Project: Skirt #2

“ I am lying like a lizard on a sunbaked rock, surveying the scene before me. I have never seen a landscape like this before and find myself wondering if this might be how the earth first looked when it was originally formed? It is rocky and rugged and I imagine hot lava forcing its way from the centre of the earth to form the gargantuan boulders that now hunker down around me. I am quite certain that my geology is incorrect, but an artist is allowed to imagine.” An extract from my diary, Kokerboom Kloof, Richtersveld, 2011

In March 2018, when I began looking for imagery to inspire the second skirt of my Earth series, I came upon this picture and remembered that day that I sat on that rock, dreaming about Creation. Only looking at it again, that landscape looked pretty barren, devoid of life and water, which triggered some thoughts about what’s required for new life to begin, which led me to the next stage in the Life Cycle.

Kokerboom Kloof, Richtersveld, South Africa

So, if the first of my dance skirts N/om: The Power, represented the life force, the second, The Creator, represents the Life-giver. She is the explosive spark of creativity; of new life and new ideas; inspired by fertility and the ingredients that make new life possible.

As a season the skirt represents that important time between Winter and Spring, when compost is formed from the debris of the past, providing the rich foundation for life to form and the promise of things to come.

The structure of this skirt was inspired by the Flow; of lava, bringing soil to the earth;

Lava flow

blood, from which fertility and new life arises, air, that enables us to breathe and water that nourishes and sustains us all.

The waterfall

This skirt was also inspired, in both content and appearance, by San aprons and loincloths.

Loincloths and aprons worn by dancers at a wedding I attended in Botswana

One of the most interesting things that I learned during my research of the subject, is that the San believe that the female apron in saturated with supernatural potency (n/om) and is often worn in combination with the male loincloth during the Trance Dance, to boost the power of the shaman when trying to access the spiritual realm. This power is linked to a woman’s fertility, her monthly cycle, which in turn is linked to that of the moon. From their extensive research, Edward and Cathelijne Eastwood have identified several rock art sites in the Limpopo region of South Africa, that contain San paintings of both loincloths and aprons, decorated with spots and spirals, thought to represent the moon. That these images exist on the walls of these intensely sacred sites, suggests that they are of symbolic importance.

So in this skirt, I drew upon this African understanding of male/female potency, and allowed the central leather motif, similar in shape to a male loincloth, to flow over the deep red cloth beneath it, symbolic of the female apron. I appliquéd small shapes that represent male loincloths to the ‘rock face’ on the left of the skirt and female aprons on the right. The intention being that when the skirt is tied at the back, the two will come together, symbolizing the merging of energies that ensure the continuation of life.

The shells, beads and found objects that hang from either end of the skirt, are to make music during the dance.

 

‘The Creator’. The second skirt in my Earth series

I wanted this skirt to be warm, rich, deep and fertile, a positive force for good, so I intuitively reached for the red ochre dye in order to get the colour I felt would capture it. Interestingly, I subsequently learned that red ochre (Hematite, or Iron Oxide, that has accumulated over millennia from decomposing life forms), is the most ancient of ritual substances, symbolically seen as the blood of Mother Earth.  During a trip to Namibia in 2002, I met Himba women, whose bodies were coated in a mixture of red ochre and animal fat and whilst preparing for this project I learned that the same is applied to young San women as they leave their seclusion during their transition rites into womanhood. The mentor scrapes the red mixture off the young woman’s skin and “she may be required to place this mixture in each fireplace in the camp and to touch young men and their weapons to bring luck in hunting”. Edward and Cathelijne Eastwood. In the Eastern Cape, red ochre is used extensively in traditional Xhosa rituals and as far back as 1822, Xhosa speaking people were trading ivory for red ochre powder.

A Himba woman, coated in a mixture of red ochre and animal fat.

The intertwined snakes in the waistband of the skirt, are symbolic of healing, new life and regeneration. My friend, Nozipho, tells me that the appearance of snakes in a traditional African home, is a sign that conception has taken place and that the snakes will reappear when the child is born. “Don’t kill or shout at at them,” she says, “the voice must be soft, so that the respect grounds and calms you. The snakes will connect the two families (clans) together”.

As I look back over what I have written, shifting between inspiration and layers of meaning, I am reminded that the art making process cannot be pinned down, for it is as fluid as the river. This artwork, like compost itself, was born out of layers of life experience.

After finishing the skirt, I read these words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“The river symbolizes a form of feminine largess that arouses, excites, makes passionate… It is the feminine life energy that animates the male principle and the male principle in turn animates action in the world… When a man gives his whole heart, he becomes an amazing force…he becomes fertile, he is invested with feminine powers in a masculine milieu. He carries the seeds for new life…”

…which  lead us to the next skirt in the series…

 

 

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Categories: Fibre Art, Inspiration, Projects | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Earth Project: Skirt #1

“ And you are the artist; you hold it all there at arm’s length and fashion it at will. You have direct access to an unlimited source of power. It is a wonderful and terrible feeling”. Lyall Watson

As I sat at my empty desk early in January 2018, all bright and ready to begin work on the first of five African dance skirts, (see my previous post), I felt a little intimidated by the task I had so ambitiously set for myself. The subject of the Nature/Humanity/ Life Cycle is complex and I had no real idea of how I was going to interpret it.

So I did what I always do when trying to make sense of my thoughts, I reached across to a big black sketch book and started to write and draw…which led to cutting and sticking and much digging in my archives, as the ideas started to flow. I found it helped to have a visual document of what was going on in my head, so that I could isolate images, shapes and symbols that would translate well into fabric.

That process took some time, but whilst I was fleshing out my ideas, I began gathering materials and dyeing random bits of cloth that I found in a stash of offcuts.

Bringing drawings to life

As with all my fibre artworks, nothing is ever straight forward and as the piles of materials began to grow, so did the confusion as to what was going to work. I spent much of my time sitting and looking and thinking, trying one thing, abandoning it and trying another. I got fit, jumping up and down on my table as I reached up to the pin board with scraps of cloth, only to take them all down again a few minutes later. And then I would sit and think again.

Such is the process when one doesn’t have a handbook to show you the way. One has to work on instinct and gut reactions, making errors and selecting what works by a process of elimination. And then, just when I thought I had the answers, things would change, new ideas would come and I had no idea where they came from. This is the art of letting go and succumbing to the process. It is the dance of trust between inspiration and artist.

  1. N/OM: THE POWER SKIRT

So today I bring you the first of the dance skirts, the one that led the way. She is both the beginning and end of the Life Cycle and represents the power aspect of the Goddess of Nature. She is the Life-force, (otherwise known as chi, n/om, prana), the powerful energy that flows through all living things, that has the ability to both create and destroy.  In Nature we see this power everywhere; in the eyes of an animal,

A page from my sketchbook, showing the power in the eyes of animals

the force of a storm

Electrical storm over Grahamstown.
Photo credit: Roddy Fox

or in the stillness of a sacred space.

The stillness of a sacred space.
Photo credit: Craig Scott

In an extract from my diary, written at this time, I read:

“A thunderstorm has just crashed overhead with thick, black clouds and booming sound and cracks of lightning that have taken out the electricity. I am reminded that this is exactly the power I am speaking of in this skirt. Awe inspiring, powerful, frightening, destructive, yet life giving and restorative. The rain returns and sounds heavy on the roof. My garden is happy. My dog is scared. And as another bolt of lightning cracks across the city, I am hugely respectful.”

As a season, this skirt represents the Winter, a time when growing things die back and bleakness reigns,

The cold of Winter

but just as the destruction seems forever, the life which simmers on beneath the surface bursts forth again with renewed energy in the creation of Spring.

For centuries, through ritual, prayer and dance, people have attempted to access this power, usually for rain-making, health or fertility. In researching this subject, I was fascinated by the San, who liken this power to electricity, for when harnessed, it can be useful, but uncontrolled, it can be dangerous. The shaman’s task is to harness and control it for the good of the community. In their Trance dances, women sit in a circle around a fire, clapping rhythmically, whilst the men dance around the women, clapping and singing to activate the supernatural potency that resides in the songs and in the shamans themselves. It is said that when the potency ‘boils’ and rises up the shaman’s spines, they enter trance and move into an altered state of consciousness that allow access to the spirit world, and once there, they plead for help on a variety of issues on behalf of the community. On return to the earthly body, the shaman sleeps and on awakening shares this powerful emotional experience with the people, both verbally and visually, through the cave paintings that are thought to have been done during this quiet time of recall.

The San believe that certain animals (eg. eland) are filled with potency, so when they kill such an animal, “… the potency flowed via its blood to the paintings, where it was stored, and then from the paintings to the trancing shamans. Painted sites were thus storehouses of the potency that made contact with the spirit world possible; that guaranteed humankind’s existence by facilitating healing, rainmaking and animal control and that by flowing between nature and people, gathered up all aspects of life in a single spiritual unity.” David Lewis-Williams

For the San, the physical and spiritual realms are completely intertwined, and nowhere do we find more evidence of this than on the rock face within their shelters, where we see these stories unfold.

San paintings in a rock shelter in the Drakensberg

The imagery that I have used in this and subsequent skirts, speaks of the potent sacredness of this humanity/Nature intersection. The symbols I have used reference the San’s connection to the natural world, but in effect, relate to all humanity.

The colours, black, white and red are used in many traditional African cultures and symbolize: Death and destruction (Black), Life, purity and goodness (White), and blood, energy, fertility and the pulse of life (Red).

I have used broken ostrich eggshell in the waistband, another reference to the San, who value the ostrich for its eggs, that provide nourishment and containers for carrying water, and when broken, are made into beads for adornment.

The ostrich and its egg

The central motif may be interpreted as a ‘spine’ through which the supernatural power boils during the trance experience. It can also be seen as the axis mundi, the Tree of Life, as above, so below, the scaffolding that holds us upright. It also references the central pole (Ixhanti) of the Xhosa kraal, onto which the horns of sacrificed cattle are placed and at the base of which, the community lay their offerings to the ancestors.

N/om:The Power
The first in the series of dance skirts that depict the Cycle of Life

So now that my skirt is complete, I sit here absorbing what she has become, and I am amazed at the process that brought her here. She is strong, self assured and calm and it is in the calmness that I feel her power. She has laid the way for the others that are to follow, and I will be bringing you the next one shortly.

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The Making of an Artwork

I’ve been thinking recently about life experience, and what we choose to do with it. Some write books and others start businesses, but most of us use it without thinking about it. As an artist, I realise that all of my work has a direct link to my past. Either I am drawing landscapes that remind me of where I have been, or I’m sewing textile artworks, (a skill taught to me by my mother many years ago), that speak of the earth and the textures of Africa. The content of the artwork is inevitably inspired by my view of the world, which in turn has been moulded by the life I have lived and the environment that has surrounded me.

To rewind a bit, I was born into a large, pioneering family, and raised on a remote cattle ranch in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. I was fortunate to have a mother, a gentle, artistic spirit, who opened my eyes to the beauty of the natural world, and a father, a larger- than- life adventurer, who encouraged me to explore it. This idyllic childhood, free of technology and distraction, developed my connection to the wilderness of our continent and taught me not only to appreciate its mystery, but to find the wilderness within me.

Growing up on our farm ‘Nyangui’, in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe

When, in my teens, we moved to Botswana, my passion for the land was sealed, for my father, an airline pilot by profession, regularly took us with him on trips into the Okavango Delta, a lush, marshy expanse of inland water that supports some of Africa’s most stunning wildlife.

A view of the Okavango Delta from the air

Beyond the edges of this delta lay the hot, dry Kalahari Desert, home to the few remaining San, a hardy, nomadic people, whose respect for the land inspired me. My brief encounter with these people was to have a lasting effect upon my work, for they convinced me at a tender age, that it is wise and possible to live harmoniously within our environment.

Bushmen (San) in the Tsodilo Hills 1970. Photo credit: Anthony Stidolph

Since then, I have lived in the ferociously hot veld of Limpopo, the humid, grassy hills of Kwazulu Natal, and more recently the arid, but beautiful Eastern Cape of South Africa. Each has brought with it its own unique brand of mystery and left its mark on my soul.

For those who follow this blog, you may be aware that I was fairly quiet last year and did not reveal much of what I was up to. This is because for the first nine months of 2018, I was incubating and giving birth to a major artwork that demanded every moment of my time and head space. But now, as I sit in this liminal space between what’s gone and what’s to come, I reflect upon my recent work and see that it too gives visual form to an accumulation of my life experiences.

The Challenge

 At the end of 2017, I received a commission to make some original artwork for the chalets of Lentaba Lodge, a luxury establishment that nestles in thick valley bush veld within the Lalibela Game Reserve, 40kms outside Grahamstown. Part of this commission included a brief to make 5 framed dance skirts, that were to be earthy and African in feel and have a story to tell.  Being a lover of Nature, textiles and all things African, this was a dream come true and turned out to be an exhilarating, but challenging project that pushed me to my limits.

The Concept for the Skirts

I was given free reign to make the skirts in whatever way I wished, but I realised that the theme for the skirts needed to be suitable for a game lodge and fulfil my needs as an artist. I reflected on my life and my relationship with the natural environment and settled on the idea of the skirts representing something that we can all relate to: the Cycle of Life, with special reference to the connection between Nature and Humanity. I decided that each skirt would represent an aspect of the cycle, with the one flowing fluidly into the next as the circle rotates.

The Inspiration

With my concept loosely in tact, I then began the exciting phase of researching the subject,  drawing largely from my experience of living in Africa, and shifting between images of nature, places I have been and stories of the indigenous people who have lived here.

Much of my inspiration came from the San, who, as I mentioned above, have fascinated me since childhood. I have always been greatly inspired by their minimal material culture, particularly their bead work, pouches, loincloths and aprons, and still own a beaded necklace and pouch made by the San that I bought in Botswana in the late 1960’s.

San pouch and clay beads

The San are recognised as being the earliest inhabitants on this continent, and were possibly the forbears of modern homo sapiens. The earliest signs of artistic expression, symbolic behavior and human culture have been found in caves and rock overhangs along the Eastern seaboard of South Africa. Much of what we know of San culture has been learned through their paintings and artefacts found at such sites and whilst there may still be some debate as to the exact meaning of the paintings, it is clear that these rock shelters were powerful, sacred spaces that represented the interface between the physical and spiritual worlds. It is for this reason, that for this series of skirts, I dug into my archives to find images of rock paintings that would inform and inspire my decision to make the rock face the backdrop to the story.

San paintings on a rock overhang on the Makgabeng Plateau, Limpopo

Having spent many years living in Kwazulu Natal, I also found myself drawn to the Zulu concept of Nomkhubulwane, the heavenly princess, the daughter of God, who as maiden, mother and crone, is believed to be the goddess who maintains the balance between the physical and spiritual realms. In Nature she appears in various forms, but most often as a rainbow that brings the promise of new life after the fury of a tropical thunderstorm. Often associated with sacred pools, she is seen as the creator, the life force and the one who brings fertility. Throughout the making of these skirts, I felt her strong feminine energy permeating the atmosphere.

Rainbow over the sacred pool on the Baviaans River. Photo credit: Roddy Fox

Water, the yin (feminine) energy of our planet, so vital for our survival on Earth, was foremost in my mind as I entered the flow of this project. It is through the pollution of our rivers and oceans that I see just how disconnected humanity has become from Nature. What I see in the world around us today, is a disrespect for the Mother that has born, protected and fed us. My hope is that through this series of artworks, the energy I invest, will go some way to restoring the balance.

I also hold firm to the African concept of Ubuntu, which is a philosophy of ‘Oneness’, that all life is interconnected and that a thread of goodness connects us all, from the smallest creature to the largest. This thread of Ubuntu, that has love and respect as core values, holds societies together and ensures the sustainability of the planet.

With my intention now clear, I turned to my interest in recycling, and eagerly set about gathering materials, dyeing cloth, and sorting through a mass of beads, bones, and rusty metal in preparation for work to begin. I had a story to tell and needed to tell it in a way that felt authentic.

Hand dyeing cloth in preparation for work to begin

A collection of beads, bones, metal and string. The ingredients for the artwork

What was so interesting to me was that in the beginning, I thought that I was in control, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that in fact I was the conduit and that the skirts were directing me.

In the posts that follow, I will be sharing the five artworks with you and including some of the stages of my creative process.

Please stay tuned and enjoy this journey with me…

 

 

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Bohemian Bag Workshop

I will be holding a two-day creative sewing workshop in my Grahamstown art studio on Saturday 15th/22nd October 2016.

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This workshop brings together my interest in fashion, design, sewing, beading, embroidery, applique and fabric manipulation, and combines it with my interest in people, their life stories and my belief that creativity can heal.

It is guaranteed to be a fun workshop, where you can make a bag or purse that can be as funky and over-the-top as you wish. It may be any size or shape and you can use whatever materials you wish. You can go crazy with embellishments and I will be there to teach you all the skills you need for the process.

With fashion trends currently being inspired by the 1960’s and 70’s hippie era, this is the perfect time to make yourself or someone else a trendy fashion accessory.

Time: 9.00am – 4.00pm

Cost: R680.00

Space will be limited, so sign up today for a workshop you will enjoy! I look forward to seeing you there.

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Double Vision Exhibition

Mogalakwena Gallery, Cape Town        6 November – 18 December 2015

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I will be in Cape Town next week to attend the opening of  Double Vision, a two-woman fibre art exhibition featuring the work of myself and Odette Tolksdorf, a fellow fibre artist and friend from Kwazulu-Natal.

Odette and I met in Durban during the 1980’s when we were part of a dynamic group of innovative fibre artists who were active in KwaZulu-Natal at the time. Intent on finding new ways of working with fabric, we adjusted traditional quilt making techniques to create our own particular form of expression. Those were exciting times, and as public interest grew with this emerging art form, Odette and I had many opportunities to take part in group exhibitions, both locally and internationally. Both of us worked from our home studios in Durban and became known not only as regular exhibitors, but as teachers of Fibre Art and Design.

In 2000 I moved to Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, where I set up a private art studio and continued to teach drawing and offer creative sewing workshops. The geographical divide between me and my fibre art friends from KwaZulu-Natal meant that I was forced to work alone and in so doing, forged a way of working that is now my trademark style.

Meanwhile in Durban, Odette continued to make art, teach design and contemporary quiltmaking and widened the scope of her activities to teaching overseas and becoming the South African representative/co-coordinator for the World Quilt and Textile Competition, held annually in the USA. Since 2000 she has organized art, craft and culture tours of South Africa with well-known textile artists, American Nancy Crow and Canadian Valerie Hearder.

Odette and I both have a strong appreciation for textiles and are founder members of Fibreworks, a group that promotes fibre art in South Africa.

With both of us appearing in Elbe Coetsee’s recently published book “Craft Art in South Africa” it seemed fitting that we should join forces in Double Vision to exhibit some of our work from the past few years.

If you happen to be in Cape Town over the festive season, please pop in to view this feast of colour.

The opening will be at 5.30 pm on 5th November and the opening talk will be given by Gina Niederhumer.

You will find the Mogalakwena Gallery at 3 Church St. Cape Town. Open Monday-Friday 9:00 – 16:00

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“Diversity” Fibre Art Exhibition

I currently have fibre artwork on show in the group exhibition, “Diversity”, being held at the Theresa Hardman Studio, 59 Main Rd., Walmer, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is the first exhibition of it’s kind to be held in the Nelson Mandela Municipality and so it was a great honour to be included in the show. There are eleven contributing artists, all from the Eastern Cape area.

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To view the works that I have on the exhibition, click on the images below:

The exhibition runs through to the 17th April, so if you’re in the area, pop along and see this beautiful show.

To view more of my work, please visit my website.

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Craft Art in South Africa

I recently returned from Cape Town where I attended the launch of Craft Art In South Africa, a sumptuous new book by Dr.Elbe Coetsee that features a delicious selection of work from the best of South Africa’s craft artists. It is beautiful, irresistible and worth every cent that you will pay to have this volume in your collection. Elbe and her team have done an amazing job of bringing you a treasure that will inspire and bring pleasure for years to come. Produced by Jonathan Ball Publishers, the book is available through all leading book stores and available to order online. I am happy and very honoured to say that my work features on pages 186 – 189.

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Surrender

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed by the doom and gloom in the world. Daily we are bombarded on social media with news and images of such intense savagery and cruelty that I am left reeling in disbelief. I am forced to wonder what chance we, who try to bring peace, love and light into the world, have against the darkness that lurks within the human heart? As artists, it is our task to make comment, to make visible the invisible and I am reminded of a textile artwork that I made in 2006 where I addressed the issue of forgiveness, the lack of which I believe to be at the root of the current world malaise.

The artwork comes in the form of a battle jacket and although this is not a new work, the message it contains is universal and will be relevant until the end of time. I share it with you now, along with the statement as it was written back then:

Surrender

'Surrender' 1.50cm x 50cm Dyed cotton fabric, beads, rusted metal, string. Machine embroidery and appliqué

‘Surrender’
1.50cm x 50cm
Dyed cotton fabric, beads, rusted metal, string. Machine embroidery and appliqué

The making and hanging of ‘Surrender’ symbolizes the process of forgiveness. It represents a conscious decision to lay down ones arms and give up the fight. It is about facing the wounds and letting them go.

The subject of ‘forgiveness’ is an interesting one. Intellectually I understand it and can see the sense in forgiving those who have betrayed and hurt us, but there is a big difference between understanding it and being able to do it. To fully implement ‘forgiveness’ is difficult. To start with, in a perverse kind of way, it feels so comfortable holding onto all those wounds and resentments as they reinforce our ‘victim’ status and our overwhelming desire to be right. They become an extension of who we are, the way we define and present ourselves to the world. To let go of them is scary, as what would we be without them, and what would we have to hold onto? Apart from which, how does one let go and forgive?

I had been pondering on these things for some time, when I unexpectedly inherited an anthology of poems by Thomas Moore (c.1800). Browsing through this volume, I came across an ode that he had translated from the bard of antiquity, Anacreon, 6BC. The ode was about love, and as I read it, I began to feel the mists of confusion that surround the issue of ‘forgiveness’, beginning to lift. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that over the years, as we suffer the trials and tribulations of living, we subconsciously use our wounds to build up a strong protective layer of armour around ourselves, a layer we foolishly hope will ward off pain, past, present and future. Anacreon’s poem made me aware of how we fight to keep love out for fear of being hurt, when in fact it is the lack of love, or our refusal to love, that really creates the pain. As I began to examine my own life, the idea for a ceremonial unclothing began to grow and with it the process of forgiveness began.

During the making of this work, I received many insights into the human condition. As I worked, the image of the cross began to emerge, without me being conscious of having put it there. I saw not only the cross, but the crown of thorns, both of which symbolise ‘martyrdom’, our reward for being so good and right, whilst everyone else is wrong. I realised how many of us travel through life seeing ourselves as martyrs, as victims, gathering rank and status (the military ‘pips’ on the shoulders) as we go. The flower image also began to appear, and made me think of growth and the desperate need we have to try to shine and grow, despite the weight of our emotional baggage. In reality, however, true growth and blossoming comes only when one is brave enough to remove the armour and say ‘ I’ve had enough of this. I’m not fighting anymore.’

As I observed the battle vest materialising before me, I was initially frustrated that it was so full of gaps and vulnerable areas. Then I began to see the message it contained. In our desire to protect ourselves, we foolishly believe that keeping a record of wrongs will somehow prevent further pain from coming in, when, in fact, all it does is deepen the anger and add to the burden. Our protective coverings are nothing but a flimsy illusion, as real protection comes from within, from having a strong heart and a self esteem that says, ‘I’m OK, I feel good and I can hold my centre irrespective of what comes my way.’

The white feather is my symbol of freedom, and coincidentally, the symbol of cowardice in battle. To me they are one and the same. True freedom comes when we step out of the battle and start making choices that will lead us to a happier and healthier life.

'Surrender' (back) Poem by Anachreon 6 BC

‘Surrender’ (back)
Poem by Anachreon 6 BC

As I sit here now, reflecting on what I have written, it occurs to me that all of the above applies not only to the individual, but to groups and nations as well.

Surrender detail4web

Detail of the white feather. Machine embroidery

This work recently featured in the catalogue for the international Conscience of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela Exhibition, curated by Marsha MacDowell, curator of the Michigan State University Museum.

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Fibreworks VIII Group Exhibition

Like a jealous lover, my art has forbidden me to communicate or entertain much over the past few weeks, requiring me to be in the studio at the crack of dawn, allowing me only the shortest of breaks to eat, and then having the audacity to infiltrate my dreams throughout my sleeping hours. Because the muse had appeared so unexpectedly after a worryingly lengthy fallow period, I thought it best to obey, lest the slippery blighter disappear and leave me stranded once again. So I apologise for not turning up at the page, but hope to rectify it now by showing you the fruits of my labour.

To fill you in, I am taking part in the biennial group fibre art exhibition, Fibreworks VIII at the ArtSPACE Gallery in Durban, opening on Monday 29th September.

Fibreworks Invitation Final-2

Fibreworks is a group of kindred spirits, who come together to motivate and support the growth of fibre art in South Africa. Formed in 1997, the group is comprised of about 50 members, most of whom are living in South Africa. Through a selection process, the group welcomes artists who are dedicated to making quality work from fibres of many kinds. As one of the founding members, I always enjoy taking part in their group exhibitions. The standards are high, which motivates me to keep working, forcing me to grow as I explore new ways to express myself.

Now I’m normally quite organised, and tend to plan way ahead of time so that I can think, play and enjoy the process of creation, but this time I found I had left things a little late. So I decided to revisit a work that I had started several years ago, which I had never finished. After sitting with it for a while, I suddenly could see the way ahead and soon found myself obsessively sewing against the time restraints. Well, the signature was embroidered half an hour before lift-off, when “Viewpoints”, photographed and packaged, was couriered to its destination. Along with it went a smaller piece of work, entitled “The Promised Land”, which will form part of a parallel exhibition within the same venue, called Major Minors.

Last minute stitching on my entry "Viewpoints"

Last minute stitching on my entry “Viewpoints”

'Viewpoints' Medium: Fibre Size: Approx 1.8m x 90cm

‘Viewpoints’
Medium: Fibre
Size: Approx 1.8m x 90cm

The Promised Land Medium: Embroidery Size: 25cm x 25cm

The Promised Land
Medium: Embroidery
Size: 25cm x 25cm

So with the Fibreworks Exhibition ticked off the list, it’s now time to get back to a new commissioned landscape that is waiting patiently on the easel. I will be bringing you more on this in a future post. In the meanwhile, it’s Sunday and raining, so what better thing to do than curl up with a good book? Tomorrow starts a new week and as I set off across the garden to the studio, I know that I will be thinking how lucky I am to be earning my living doing exactly what I love.

 

Categories: Exhibitions, Fibre Art | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Festival Exhibition 2014

When I woke this morning and went out into my winter garden, I could feel it in the air. It is the mood of Grahamstown the week before the National Arts Festival. There is a peculiar calm that descends upon our little city the week before the Festival, a sense of anticipation of what is about to come. However, the stillness of this early morning reverie belies the manic activity that is going on behind the scenes in art departments and studios, theatre venues, shops, restaurants and the numerous b&b’s that are all busily preparing for the hordes to arrive. If the university is the lifeblood of this little city, then the Festival is the injection that keep us all alive. We depend upon it for our survival, both financially and culturally. There are already a few new faces in town, the technicians who have come from the big cities to create the settings for the shows. This is when the excitement begins, for a sense of new energy has arrived.

In a few days time, thousands of people will move into the city, and for a little over a week our lives will be temporarily transformed. There will be no parking, roads will be closed, and every available wall space will be plastered with posters that advertise the hundreds of exhibitions and shows. Life for normal Grahamstonians both closes down and comes alive.

Here are a few images from last year’s Festival Parade

The air is chilly, but the sun is shining and I push my feet through piles of fallen oak leaves and sit in the warmth of the sun to drink my tea, watching the birds and listening to the sounds of our sleepy city gradually coming to life. This is the calm before the storm. I’ve been keeping a low profile for the past few months, because I have been working on a large commission. I feel satisfied with the work I have produced, but as a result of this distraction, have not had time to put together a formal exhibition for the Festival. I do however have a fair selection of work available for sale, so will be having a display of these works in my art studio. If anyone should be interested to see the work, please contact me to arrange a time for viewing.

A selection of my work will be on show in my studio. Viewing by appointment only

A selection of work will be on show in my art studio during the National Arts Festival 2014. Viewing by appointment only.

Festival is always a fun time in Grahamstown and this year, it’s 40th anniversary, should really be a good one! I will keep you updated with news and images of the festivities in my next post. So, watch this space…!

Categories: Exhibitions, Fibre Art, Landscapes, My Studio | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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