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Newsletter March 2008

Dear ALL

Dates to diarise:

  • Wednesday 2 April 2008 - 6:30 pm. Opening of FIREWORKS - KZN Fibreworks show. Carl Roberts opened the exhibition. This exhibition features at the Complete Picture Gallery in Hillcrest, opposite the Heritage Market. Artists participating: Elaine Barnard, Rukaiya Essa, Odette Tolksdorf, Judy Breytenbach, Margaret Ruxton, Jeanette Gilks, Rosalie Dace, Sue Akerman, Annette McMaster, Leonie Malherbe, Sue Physick, Carolyn Zelenka and Helga Beaumont. The exhibition has been extended a few days and will close on 29 April. Knockdown 30 April. Carl's opening address is printed later
  • 14 April Closing date for Beadex submissions. More on this later.
  • Tuesday 15 April Opening of RE-GENERATION - exhibition will be opened by Terri Broll. This is a MACS Exhibition at the Jack Heath Gallery at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Fibreworks artists participating include: Sue Akerman, Rukaiya Essa, Annette McMaster, Jutta Faulds, Sue Physick, Carolyn Zelenka, Kerry Landon, Santie McIntosh. The exhibition closes on 25th April
  • 16 April to 15 May: Skin to Skin Exhibition at the Standard Bank Gallery, Johannesburg. See attached invitation which is sensational.
  • 16 -18 May Beadex Show at the Sandton Convention Centre.
  • 21 May 2008 Submission of World Quilt Competition Entry Form to Odette Tolksdorf. More on this later.
  • 16 - 22 May 2008 Knitting/Dyeing/Felting/fibre break-a-way. More on this later
  • 19 - 31 May Innovative Threads opens at Nova Constantia Cape Town
  • 11 July 2008 - 22 August. Objekt Gallery - Knitting exhibition. More on this later
  • 25 August - 13 September Fibreworks V opens at artSPACE durban. More on this later.
  • 5 September. Submission of entry materials for Quilt National 2009 USA. More on this later
  • 8 - 14 September 2008: National Quilt Festival in Gauteng. More on this later
  • 18 - 21 September 2008 14th European Patchwork meeting in France.
  • October 4 Notice of preliminary acceptance for Quilt National 09
  • October 15 Deadline for arrival for final jury and photography Quilt National

    Meeting on 29th February.

    Apologies: Sue Akerman, Margaret Ruxton, Odette Tolksdorf, Rosalie Dace, Santie McIntosh

    Members present:
    Leonie Malherbe, Carolyn Zelenka, Kerry Langdon, Jutta Faulds, Jeanette Gilks, Sue Physick, Annette McMaster, Judy Breytenbach, Jean Powell, Helga Beaumont, Sue Stevenson.

    Next meeting: Friday 23 May 2008
    Note new time - 9.30 for 10 am.


  • Lynette Douglas

  • Lynette Douglas is a JHB member who now lives in Umhlanga Rocks KZN. Here is what she has to say:

    "I left a thriving hat business in JHB but have brought the business - Beautiful Hats - to Umhlanga. I offer to make a hat in a week: if visitors order on a Sunday, it will be ready for delivery on the following Friday. This way I hope to get some trade from up-country.

    I am a London-trained milliner. The Queen's milliner was one of my teachers at the London School of Fashion.

    Bookbinding is another passion that I have been involved in for over 30 years. I have my own bindery set up in my Umhlanga home and I am happy to repair, bind and to post books to anywhere in South Africa. I am happy to do original bindings too."

    Lynette's Contact details H: 031 561 3361 Cell: 078 391 6842 email

    Many thanks for this information Lynette!

  • Margie Garratt

  • And now an important letter from Margie Garratt:

    "I would like to make you all aware of a rather schocking experience I have been through recently. I was exhibiting at the CCDI's ICONIC exhibition at Spier (I was proclaimed an Icon some 2 years ago with 40 other crafter/artists who had made a difference in the Western Cape). I entered the exhibition and filled in the application form detailing that my artwork was 'Not For Sale' and left the Insurance Value blank as the work was for exhibition only.

    On completion of the exhibition I received an email informing me that my artwork had been erroneously sold to a German tourist for R2 000. He had walked into the exhibition on the morning the show was being dismantled to be packed away. The credit card machine was still working, and some official allowed the tourist to purchase the artwork for a value "indicated on the artwork". They told me this was what we had telephonically stated the insurance value to be and mistakenly this was thought to be the selling price of the artwork. (Neither Theresa nor I had given them this figure!) Fortunately the purchaser has been located and has agreed to return the artwork.

    This is just a warning to everyone: indicate boldly 'Not For Sale' on the artwork itself and make sure you put in the correct Insurance Value on the application form - do not leave it blank, for the curators to fill in!

    Out of interest this artwork is in both my computer file and in my hard copy file with all its details. It belongs to my husband and its value is R12.000.

    I am very lucky not to have lost "Closure". It is an important piece of work in my history".

    Thanks, Margie, for sharing this warning with us.

  • Fibreworks V

  • The gallery at artSPACE durban has been booked and paid for and at this stage everything seems to be in order. We will keep you posted

    Nova Constantia is available from 4 October at this stage, and if we are keen to take the show to Cape Town, Fibreworks will pay to get the work down to Cape Town from Durban.

    Margie is happy to give us a very good rate at her gallery. Fibreworks will PAY SOMEONE to baby-sit the exhibition for two weeks. Any takers? We have money to negotiate a good rate. Someone MUST be present at all times. Ideally there should be two people. This is always a problem. Margie does not want to be responsible for the exhibition as there is a good chance she will be away in the UK during this period. Anyone who is keen to go to Cape Town for the show/baby-sit the show is welcome to use the cottage at Nova.

    If someone comes forward, we will continue with the second leg of Fibreworks V. Please note that if there are NO TAKERS, Fibreworks V in Cape Town will be cancelled.

  • Quilt National 2009

  • Quilt National - an international juried competition that promotes contemporary quilt-making - provides the viewing public with a variety of techniques and innovative trends in the medium of layered and stitched fabric. This world famous traveling exhibition demonstrates the breadth and diversity of contemporary expressions.

    The exhibition offers various prestigious awards.

    Interested? Direct all questions to Kathleen Dawson, Quilt National Director. Email:

  • World Quilt Competition

  • Here is news from Odette Tolksdorf. She writes:

    "Greetings! This is your personal invitation to enter a quilt in the annual WORLD QUILT COMPETITION and an opportunity to exhibit your quilts in America. The organisers have made special arrangements to make it easier for international contestants to enter.

    The competition has categories for both Traditional and Innovative quilts and there are cash awards to be won. Please pass this information on to your quilting friends and colleagues."

    Have a look at the website:

    Please contact Odette for more details, such as Entry Forms, should you need them.
    Phone: 031 2662978 / 074 1720544
    email :

  • National Quilt Festival.

  • Theme: Shosholoza 2008 (moving forward)

    The Golden Rand Guild for Quilters is proud to announce the South African National Quilt Festival to be held at Alberton City Hall in Ekurhuleni in 2008.
    For more details visit the web site at or

    Or contact Jeanette Botha 011 902 6997 or 083 964 4553

  • Innovative Threads

  • Tonya Miles, who coordinates Innovative Threads, has an update:

    "After the exhibition at Nova Constantia, some of the pieces will be sent to Paris to the 14th European Patchwork meeting from 18 - 21 September 2008. Luckily for me, Celia de Villiers has volunteered to go in my place to hang the work in Paris. The Patchwork meeting team are arranging for articles to go into various newspapers & publications advertising Innovative Threads. As mentioned in my last email, all artists will pay upfront for the freighting of artworks sent to Paris. I will keep everyone posted on any new developments. My email is"

  • Knitting exhibition

  • Objekt - a new and upmarket Gallery in Parktown North is having a knitting exhibition from 11 July to 22 August 2008. Everyone should have received the email from Dana Biddle with an attached document, explaining all, with the Conditions of Entry and Entry Form:

    See this as a REMINDER of that email she sent us all!

    "To all knitters,
    I would like to forward you further details of the knitting exhibition. The brief for the exhibition was as follows:
    The domestic craft of knitting is back in vogue. In this exhibition we would like to tap into this revival by showcasing how contemporary knitting is used as a medium for art practice. With exhibits ranging from knitted handbags, throws, garments, storage ideas, lamps, toys, wall-hangings, hats etc. We would like to push boundaries and feature a range of innovative and experimental work too. All items have to be in the following colour range: green, grey, cream and metallic. There will be a selection panel selecting items for the exhibition.
    By exploring areas of tradition and history, process, skill, colour, materiality, individuality and future technologies, we want to celebrate the creative potential and contemporary appeal of this craft tradition.
    The selection will be from photograph, e-mail photographs or you can bring your items to the shop for selection. It is advised that images are of high standard and focussed. Unclear photos might disqualify excellent work. The selection will be done by the Objekt. The selectors' decision is final and the selectors have the right to withdraw any work from the Exhibition that does not meet expectations.

    A tag with the description of material used, the size and name should clearly be visible on each item.
    The photographs or items and entry forms must reach Objekt at the address below or by email on, or before 9 June 2008. Successful entrants will be informed what items were selected and items should arrive at Objekt not later than 4th of July 2008.

    Address: 32 7th avenue Parktown north 2193 Johannesburg
    Tel 011 447 6005

  • Beadex

  • I have been receiving very comprehensive information about Beadex on my email. Hope you have too!
    Carla, who is the coordinator of Beadex, sent me this brief:

    Fibre & Textiles Art Gallery

    "In May 2007, Beadex visitors arrived in their droves to attend the First Ever bead and jewellery-making exhibition held in South Africa. Held in the Pavilion, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, some 7500 visitors attended the show. Beadex would like to introduce a FIBRE & TEXTILES ART GALLERY"
    - an opportunity to promote Fibreworks as a serious art form in 2008.

    Artists are invited to exhibit in a special Gallery Space - 2 sqm - will cost R2 000 plus VAT for the duration of the show. It consists of:
  • an exclusive and prestigious area in which your work will be displayed
  • one spot light, walling, carpeting and fascia board
  • an area to display promotional material
  • artist's name/ profile of the piece will be attached to all artworks

    Should you be unable to attend the show, the Beadex Organizers will arrange the positioning and hanging of all pieces within the stipulated area. Unaccompanied items must be insured by the owner/artist.
    Interested buyers will be directed from the Gallery to the organizers office for any further enquiries.

    The Fibre & Textiles Art Gallery will be promoted via our monthly electronic magazine to over 7500 dedicated enthusiasts, in the show programme, and through media coverage, generated by Talawa Communications PR company and on our website

    EXCLUSIVELY FOR OUR FIBRE ARTS EXHIBITORS: BOOK NOW and stand a chance to win an ELNA 505 Felt Making Machine worth R3000.

    For more information please feel free to email me "

    Contact Carla Massaman for more details.

  • Knitting / fibre breakaway - 16 - 22 May

  • Dana Biddle is coordinating a knitting /dyeing/felting fibre breakaway in Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape and she tells me you're invited!

    "Bring some friends and join us for a relaxing, informal week of fun attending workshops, shopping for all your favourite goodies and spending time with like-minded people. The design team from Saprotex have very kindly offered to do a workshop on pattern writing and how to modify patterns. This will be a FREE workshop.

    If you know of anyone who may like to attend this breakaway, please pass this information on to them, we still have places in all the workshops. If anyone would like to attend the breakaway but not any of the workshops, that's fine too."

    For additional info please contact
    Dana -- 016 349 2949 / 083 268 5856
    Adele - 046 675 1090 / 082 328 3678

That's all for now

Fireworks - regional KZN Fibreworks exhibition

Here is Carl's Opening Address:

When I was asked to open this exhibition I started to think about Fibre Art and the first thing that came to mind was that Fibre Art, like sculpture, was a bit of a Cinderella. Fibre Art has been ignored, shunned, and left out in the cold at a time when art is having a ball. The questions I asked myself were: How does Fibre Art fit into the local and international art scene? And how could it benefit from all the exciting art activity that is taking place? After all, at present new galleries are opening all over the place, prices for art works are breaking records regularly, art works are viewed as investments and there are more collectors than ever before. A little research and some contemplation have helped to change my mind. The fibre artists are not weeping into the grate filled with self pity but have grasped the Fairy Godmother's wand, made the necessary magic and propelled themselves to a belle at the ball.

Edward Lucie-Smith wrote in Art Today that "The contemporary art world is no longer hierarchical, but plural". There are so many competing styles of art today and this exhibition is one of those many approaches to expressing oneself. I see this as part of the widening of the academic debate and greater acceptance by the public of a variety methods, mediums and modes of art. I also see this as an opportunity for the Fibre Artists.

If the art world was still hierarchical the dominant style might well be that of Ugly Step Sister and heir apparent, Jeff Koons. He epitomises art with a capital A and is considered the leading artist by the cognoscenti. It would be his style and methods of kitsch sculpture and painting we might be obliged to imitate, or risk being disregarded. We, like him, would be art directors as he does not make a thing himself. The work would have clear motivations and would have a carefully constructed historical linage. This results from a top down approach. That is to say if the artist wants to be 'successful' he finds out what is required and executes his or her mission. They are helped by historians, publicists, media, marketing and image consultants. If you look at a body of Jeff Koons's work you will see many images of him. That already says something but please note his lipstick! It says a lot.

If you are going to imitate this heir apparent be aware that you may feel obliged to graphically depict your sexual exploits with your politician, porn queen partner.

That is not what I see in this exhibition; in fact art with a capital A is in stark contrast to this exhibition. Here I see, and have read in the books about this group, a struggle with personal experiences, confusion as to where the artists fit into history and they are modest about their efforts. Jeanette Gilks, in her introduction to Fibreworks Major Minor 2, writes about "Exploring personal interiors". It is this inaccurate probing and feeling of ones way that is for me, right. There is no agreed upon lexicon or dictionary that you or I can refer to in order to correctly express oneself. There is no message that we are required to convey and there are no Gurus. Artists can never be sure of what they are doing.

By contrast Koons and his ilk appear unassailable. He says "now is the time for Jeff Koons" and puts forward a carefully constructed and convincing argument. Yet when you look at his work you sense its vacuity. My feeling is that this is sales talk and the art is in his ability to sell and promote his work. The Glass Slipper, the aesthetics of his artworks, does not fit the foot. He, even with lipstick, remains the Ugly Step Sister.

Fibre artists have had a longer, if a less self assured, history. They have been around for as long as mankind. They have not always been as well known or as well organised as today. Many of the historical works will not be found in art museums but in the anthropological collections. Knots are a basic human tool and the oldest products, nets and knits, have been dated back ten of thousands years. Weaving, the basis for all cloth has been known for at least 5,000 years. From these and related techniques came clothes, carpets, tapestries, jerseys, bags, quilts, beaded works and so on. Although they were usually designed as functional objects they were sometimes beautifully made so as to transcend their craft roots to become art, fibre art.

From this needs based and skill orientated tradition, works in fibre have in the last 100 years trended from the serviceable towards the aesthetic. Mechanisation in the home gave women more time to make things and hence make them more beautifully. Quilts have developed from being a necessity, to keep you warm, to something made principally for its aesthetic value. More time has gone into thinking about the creation and into making it an expression of the artist's vision. Fibre Art today, freed from functionality and buoyed by a host of techniques that can be used to express the artists will, is a fully fledged art discipline that competes on an even footing with paintings and sculptures.

This group of fibre artists was formed in 1997. The group has managed to hold several exhibitions, including an international exhibition. It has a number of publications to its credit and it has created an awareness of Fibre Art and the artists. I am envious! However I am sure that most here tonight are aware that real artists are above all individuals and seldom form a cohesive group. Whilst they appear to have a united front, and of course have the commonality of fibre as a medium, a closer look reveals no familiar vision, disparate inspirations, varying techniques and differing materials.

The work varies from the decorative to the spiritual, functional to the philosophical and from the representational to the abstract. The forms, flat or sculptural, are textured, colourful, composed, bold, detailed using line and pattern to great effect. There are differences in materials used: lace, ribbon, paper, felt, silk, organza, and so on. Techniques and methods also differ vastly, from inkjets to hand dyed, from bought materials to found objects, from hand stitched to machine made. The variety is great and possibilities are endless.

For me this exhibition and works I have seen in the books are full of individual visions. Most are inwardly focused, personal expressions of one self and ones experiences. They contrast to those that seek academic praise or those that are designed for corporate or public collections. To make the works for your own satisfaction is in my opinion the correct approach. Exhibitionism should be barred, psychological and sociological issues should be ignored and history left to the historians, who in any case consistently rewrite it. Historical relevance, psychological insight and the sociological aspects will all be present and take care of themselves. It does not need to be imposed on your work.

This work is warm, homely, personal, sensitive, sensual and done with loving care. It contrasts with Koons's art and the indifference of art with a capital A. The work is felt and fumbled and has soul, unlike that which is seen with aid of a marketing manager and delegated to technicians. Images are not appropriated or mediated and the material, that is the knowledge, the experiences and events, are digested, not spat out. Only then can artists begin to visualize and sense their way towards an image.

Whilst writing this speech I began wonder about the politics of the group and whether it will have a pumpkin hour? What are the difficulties, disagreements and stresses that can sow divisions amongst members? I would like to support the group and point out the benefits to the individuals:

The group provides a platform and springboard for artists to make themselves known. It helps place the individuals into the historical and sociological context, assisting with the current re-assessment, recognition and re-rating of the Fibre Artist. It provides emotional and intellectual support and helps the artists feel less isolated. I understand it is also a community of friends. It must continue, and continue to encourage the rich diversity.

This group has power. Its sum is greater than the parts.

The group has brought us to the art ball and like Cinderella the beauty is within. I have chanted my spell, and now the Fibre Art exhibition is open for those who wish to be charmed.

Thank you!
Carl Roberts

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