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Newsletter March 2018

Dear All,

Please note that this letter contains two attachments:

  • Entry Form for Major Minors
  • Entry Form for Fibreworks X
Many thanks for your subs. Remember to pay into the NEW ACCOUNT. The bank details are available from Helga. More on this later.


7 March - 27 May Unfolding Fibre exhibition, Pretoria. More on this later
Friday 16 March - reply to Sheila Walwyn re FACT (Fibre Artists Cape Town) exhibition participation. See newsletter for details.
27 March at 6 pm at Hillcrest AIDS Centre, Woza Moya & Friends · Hillcrest The History of isiShweshwe - a lecture, exhibition & designer sale. More on this later
8 - 17 June Fynarts Festival, Hermanus. More on this later.
14 - 22 September FACT exhibition at Nova Constantia in Cape Town. More on this later.
10 - 28th October Fibreworks X National Exhibition: EDGE at KZNSA gallery in Durban. Please note that this date has been changed. More on this later.
8 and 9th October. Setting up of Fibreworks exhibition at the KZNSA gallery in Durban.
Tuesday 9 October. Exhibition opening at KZNSA gallery.
Saturday 13 October Fibreworks AGM 9 am. More on this later.

Next Meeting: As Kathy Knox will be here attending the Quilt Indaba, we have decided to have our second meeting then, so she can attend. We will meet for lunch at Helga's house at 12:30.

Our last meeting was held on 24 February at the Midlands Art and Craft Society in Pietermaritzburg. Thanks Jutta for organizing this. Minutes of this meeting have been incorporated into the main body of the newsletter.

Members present: J. Gilks, S. Naidoo, O.Tolksdorf, H. Beaumont, J, Faulds, A. McMaster, S. Physick, G. Gerhard and L Malherbe.

A great surprise visitor was Ute Gilles from Germany who was a Fibreworks members when she lived here! Wonderful to see her again!

Apologies: S. Akerman and C. Lemmer



It would be a great help with the hanging/organizing of our show if we knew approximately what works we will be receiving and if you were planning on making a 3D work. (3D defined as being able to walk/move round it.) Please don't think you have to make a commitment that is cast in stone at this stage: just an indication if you are considering it. We need to know this information as we are considering inviting a guest artist who works in 3D and consequently we need to know if there will be the space available.

We sent out a separate attachment for you to fill in. Please send back by 15 April to


The traditional size has been 25 x 25 cm, but we are considering opening up our future Major Minors exhibitions to include an A4 format which can be worked as either portrait or landscape. A number of artists have submitted works this size anyway, and these works have always been exhibited, so now it's really a case of making this new size option official!

2018 AGM

We have decided to commence our AGM at Odette's house at 9 am on Saturday 13th October. During this time we will assess any prospective members' work. After assessing the work, we will head off to the KZNSA gallery for a Talk-and-Walkabout of our exhibition at 11am. After the walkabout, we finish our meeting over lunch at the gallery

If you are keen to help out with this, please let us know. I can remember once, at one of our Johannesburg exhibitions, the members who were present at the walkabout did a spontaneous 'walk 'n talk' of the show! I can recall that we spoke about our own work as well as anyone else's work who took our fancy. It was great! And thoroughly enjoyed by the public! I like the idea of promoting an interactive and informal engagement with the public where everyone feels comfortable to speak and ask questions.


If you want to update your personal page, send Helga the information by May 2018 so she can update the web site.


Please note that Fibreworks account has been moved to Nedbank and we now have internet access. In future, pay your monies into this account. The details are available from Helga.

Make sure you let Helga know on once you have paid any monies! Failing to do this could mean your receiving an invoice from Helga as she will have no way of tracking who you are!

We chose not to get an sms from the bank as they charge more for this service.

Furthermore, there are additional costs you have to consider when you pay your subs and entry fees: If you pay by EFT there are no costs. However, if you pay cash or go to the ATM you must add the costs below to your monies:

Cash payment: R6 plus R1.50 per R100 or part thereof.
Nedbank ATM: R3 plus 75c per R100 or part thereof.

Please be mindful of these additional costs.


Unfolding Fibre. Pretoria Art Museum

An exhibition of fibre art: Unfolding Fibre, will open at the Pretoria Art Museum on March 7 and close on May 27. Fibreworks members who are participating in this group exhibition: Sally Scott, Kathryn Harmer Fox, Gina Niederhumer and Odette Tolksdorf.

(If the name of any Fibreworks member has mistakenly been left out of the exhibitors list please let us know!)

Contact: Pretoria Art Museum 012 358 6750

Hannelie du Plessis 012 358 6748.
  • A Thread runs Through it - Collaborative Relationships at Hermanus Fynarts Festival 2018
Several Fibreworks members will once again be exhibiting in a group exhibition at the annual Hermanus Fynarts. This year the title is:

A Thread runs Through it - Collaborative Relationships.

Pairs of visual artists - a fibre artist and a painter - will each produce their own artwork to interpret the theme. Fibreworks members who are participating: Hermine Coleman, Jeanette Gilks, Jenny Hearn, Kathryn Harmer-Fox, Kim Tedder, Gina Niederhumer, Odette Tolksdorf, Paul Schutte, Sheila Walwyn.
  • News from Sheila Walwyn: FACT (Fibre Artists Cape Town)
Dear Artists

I'm writing to you on behalf of FACT , a group of fibre artists which meets monthly to discuss and show artworks using the medium of textile/fibre. One of our members is Margie Garratt who owns Nova Constantia, a beautiful Cape Dutch homestead in Constantia with a lovely exhibition space which the family very kindly allows us to use.

Last year we put on a very successful exhibition of various artists's works, including textile artists, painters, embroiderers, ceramicists and a basket-weaver. We are planning another exhibition in September this year, probably from 14 - 22, and although most of the same artists will be exhibiting, we would like to include some new creatives. Your name has been put forward and we'd therefore like to invite you to participate.

However, because the space is limited and the group of participants fairly large, we need to employ a jurying process, which will be done by two people elected for the task, and every artist who enters must do so on the understanding that they may not necessarily be successful. Also, in order to run the exhibition in a private space, we need help from everyone to commit to roster duties for the duration of the exhibition.

We have decided on a broad theme of INTER-WOVEN and the exhibition will be advertised as 'FACT and Friends'.

Our next planning meeting will be at Nova Constantia on Friday 16 March at 11.00, so if you are interested in participating, we would welcome your attendance/replying at this meeting. If you know of anyone interested, also please let me know.

For more information contact Sheila Walwyn on 021-6835497/0828878266.

  • Jeanette Gilks
Last year Marsha Mac Dowell contacted me regarding my contributing to a book she was writing on quilts and related textiles of South Africa. I'm sure some of you will remember/know Marsha as she has been here in South Africa and helped coordinate various textile exhibitions here.

Below is an edited excerpt from the letter she wrote to me, included here as it acknowledges Margie Garrett, who has been a stalwart member of our Fibreworks group and one of its founder members in 1997:

'My main essay will be an updated and expanded version of an essay, entitled "Textiles and Quiltmaking in a Rainbow Nation," which I wrote a a few years ago and was published in Spike Gillespie, ed. Quilts Around the World: The Story of Quilting from Alabama to Zimbabwe. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Voyageur Press, 2010.

I will be writing a separate small essay on Innovative Threads and the Major/Minor series and which will include a tribute to Margie Garrett in fostering a larger awareness of art quilts.

Marsha MacDowell, Ph.D.
Curator, Michigan State University Museum on quilts
Professor, Art, Art History, and Design
Director, The Quilt Index (

Needless to say, I accepted the invitation; always willing to sing the praises of our Fibreworks group!

Hereunder is the article I submitted for Marsha's book:

Opening one of our exhibitions in a Johannesburg gallery some years ago, Ceilia de Villiers, a Fibreworks member, humorously described Fibreworks members as 'Ex- centrics' since we had moved from the central denseness of traditionally well-defined quilt groups and time-honoured art genre to the outer edges where the air is thinner and movement is easier. Fibreworks artists are thus not easily defined or easily contained. We welcome anyone to the group whose work has any kind of authentic relationship with fibre, however tenuous that might be! This kind of assessment criteria of prospective members' submissions - which has always been juried by existing members of Fibreworks - has worked well for us as a group: we have remained flexible and colourful, just like our artworks, and because of this we have stretched and evolved over time, embracing all manner of art media and weaving them ingeniously into our work.

The idea of a 'Fibreworks' group was conjured up in1997 by a group of women friends. Whilst some came from quilting backgrounds and others were trained in graphic design or fine art, we were united in the commitment to promote fibre and textile art as a serious art form. We were all interested in creating a group that was dedicated in promoting change within the existing art and craft platforms in South Africa and we were keen to generate interaction, present new challenges, and foster critical input from our members.

At this first meeting, it was decided that we would exhibit biennially, in South Africa, at a national members' exhibition. This could possibility form part of our AGM. To date, we have had nine national members' exhibitions, showcased in some of the most prestigious art museums and galleries all over in South Africa. In addition to national shows, there have been five Major Minors exhibitions. These artworks, all 25 x 25cm and sometimes accompanied by a small sleek, colour catalogue, have travelled with high acclaim to various venues in Europe, Australia and the U.S.A. Like perfume, many of these small works capture the essence of Fibreworks.

We also agreed, at that initial meeting, that there would be a quarterly newsletter that would include important information, like exhibition dates and venues, significant achievements of members, as well as illuminating articles submitted by members themselves. Many Fibreworks members are internationally renowned artists and teachers, and our artworks feature in private and public collections in South Africa and abroad.

Since these newsletters have also incorporated all the minutes from our Fibreworks meetings over the 20 years of our existence, this body of information has come to form a kind of autobiography of Fibreworks.

Our ultimate mission, perhaps, has been the desire to provide emotional support and intellectual stimulation to our mostly female members. Initially somewhat innocent and naïve, Fibreworks has become more sophisticated and well travelled, but we still hold firm many of the original beliefs and decisions that initially launched the group.

What actually constitutes 'fibre' art? Below are some excerpts from 'Fabulous Fibres!', one of our documents that we give to all new members:

'Fibre art is an art form that encompasses a very large range of techniques, materials and approaches that give the fibre artist possibilities to explore and expand the art form in almost unlimited ways.

'Fibre' refers to materials that are made up of continuous filaments or elongated pieces similar to lengths of thread. These include natural fibres, both animal and vegetable, such as: cotton, hemp, sisal, linen, textile, pulp paper, seed fibre, spider silk, sinew, wool, cashmere, and mohair. Metallic fibres are drawn from ductile metals like copper and gold. In addition, there are a whole range of acrylic fibres to explore.

You are invited to consider the exciting possibilities of these fibres as you create in basketry, beading, braiding, crochet, embroidery, felting and felt making, fibre knots, knitting, Kumihimo, lace-making, needlework, paper making, papier maché, patchwork, quilting and spinning.

Remember that materials can be torn, dyed, burnt, frayed, glued, painted, embroidered, woven, ripped, cut, folded, crumpled, hammered, layered, looped or otherwise manipulated.

Fibreworks artworks are frequently composed of numerous different types of fiber in combination with other materials such as paint or found objects and you are encouraged to investigate all of these possibilities, be it garments, wall art, vessels, sculptures, books or something as yet unimagined!

Alternatively, fibre art can be artwork whose subject matter or content is fibre or textiles.

Fibre art can conceptually address all matters fibre …'

Fibreworks invites new members to comment and reflect on the traditional nature and purpose of textiles, and also challenges members to comment critically, by way of their visual art pieces, on the ongoing discussions on 'woman's work', and the evolving nature and purpose of these ancient 'craft' practices. Our fibre/textile shows consequently do uphold some of the ancient techniques of stitching, embroidery, weaving and the like, but they also demonstrate a transformation of many of these traditions. Our exhibitions embrace new technologies and techniques and often challenge existing perspectives on the art/craft debate.

The medium of any artwork is a transformative device that lies between imagination and manifestation; between the idea and the act. As the medium affects what is done with it and what is expressed through it, the particular properties of the medium - and in this case it's a fibrous/textile medium - together with its associated techniques, can contribute significantly to the meaning of the artwork. Whilst some Fibreworks artists choose to work within the limitations of the medium, others try to extend these limits. The second option can be hazardous, but if the artist is successful she may set new boundaries for the medium by presenting fresh visual and conceptual terrain. The most exciting work dances on this edge, between the known and the unknown, between the familiar and the mysterious, eliciting a complex interplay of our emotions, intellect, judgement and imagination. Daring and compelling, compelling because it is daring, the viewer too feels engaged in this convincing performance, taking away, at the end of the dance, a unique experience.

Perhaps this partly explains why textile art exhibitions always manage to draw large numbers of people into art galleries. Fibre/textile artworks, and their frequent collaboration with other media, such as ceramics, seem to have a universal appeal amongst all members of society - irrespective of age, sex, culture, or nationality. Like sculptural artworks, textile artworks convey a powerful, physical sense of presence: a 'hereness' as opposed to the 'thereness' of 2D more representational work. Maybe it's this tactile immediacy of textiles and their ready-made, rich associations that people find fascinating. It seems that because of, or despite the digital world of virtual cyberspace, the tactile, and very slow actions of physically joining lots of different materials together is still profoundly relevant. Lots of different kinds of people seem genuinely intrigued by the time and minute attention that is demanded in making hand-crafted things. In a world obsessed with instant gratification, something that has taken months to complete is incomprehensible, even absurd perhaps, considering that there is no guarantee of a sale!

I would like to conclude with the origins of two significant words in the English language and would like to revive some of their original, albeit obsolete meanings. They are 'craft' and 'skill'. From these two words we get the terms 'skilled craftsman', and 'skilled craftswoman'.

'Craft' - from Old English, meant strength, might, power.
'Skill' - from Old Norse, meant discernment, knowledge.

Accordingly, a 'skilled craftsman' in Middle English was understood to be someone who had developed over years of practice, the power of discernment and acumen, i.e. his judgement and assessment was to be trusted.

For the last 20 years I have been honoured to work with a group of astute and powerful women whose insights and perceptions can be trusted.

Jeanette Gilks
Fibreworks Chairman
August 2017

Launched at the end of 2017, the Saunter is a series of arts, crafts, food and activity trails that stretches from Durban to Hilton. Around 75 artists and crafters and 145 role-players from selected restaurants, accommodation and other facilities are part of The Saunter.

We have handpicked some of the best places to eat, interesting and fun things to do and you are invited into the studios of talented crafters and artists for a private view.
See details on The Saunter website which includes some KZN Fibreworks members.

The History of isiShweshwe - a lecture, exhibition & designer sale
Tues. March 27 at 6 pm at Hillcrest AIDS Centre, Woza Moya & Friends · Hillcrest
Juliette Leeb- du -Toit will give a lecture on the history of isiShweshwe. She will also be launching her fascinating book on the subject which has everything you ever wanted to know about this fabric. The evening will be great for be anyone involved in designing/ fashion industry or just those of us who love and adore the iconic South African Fabric. The lecture will cover: how it came to South Africa, how it got its name, and literally a whole lot of incredible and fascinating facts that you never knew about this fabric. There will be an isiShweshwe exhibition and Designer Shweshwe garments will be on sale. Light refreshments available. Tickets R30.

Odette Tolksdorf has recommended some good Web sites
Some interesting websites

Thanks All!

Jeanette Gilks and The Team

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