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Newsletter March 2020

Dear ALL


  • Mending the Scars exhibition in the Schreiner Gallery at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg. Opening address later in this newsletter

  • 31st of March Work to be sent to Nieu Bethesda for the Art Quilt Exhibition to be held over Easter weekend. Fibreworks members were invited to participate. Contact Antoinette Kriel:

  • 29 April. Submission deadline for FACT exhibition in Cape Town. More on this later.

  • 8 - 16 May. FACT exhibition in Cape Town

  • 17 July. Australia Fiber arts exhibition. More on this later.

  • 13 September - 8 November. Fibreworks XI Members Exhibition. Tatham Art Gallery Pietermaritzburg

  • September Exhibition of Fibreworks works at the Mexican Studies Centre at Wits University. More on this later.

  • Dates to be sent in due course
Our next meeting will be held on:
Saturday May 9, at Odette's home, 83 Jan Hofmeyer Road, Westville at the usual time - 9 for 9:30am. The main topic will be about our Tatham exhibition. Please submit any queries you have regarding the Members' exhibition and they will be discussed at the meeting.
The minutes of our first meeting of the year have been incorporated into the main body of the letter.

Present: Paul Schutte, Odette Tolksdorf, Helga Beaumont, Rosalie Dace, Jeanette Gilks, Sarojani Naidoo, Leonie Malherbe.

Apologies: Sue Akerman, Annette McMaster, Gillian Gerhard, Jenny Hearn, Marilyn Pretorius, Prue Nicholson, Corina Wolmarans Lemmer.

How good to have Paul with us. I cannot tell you how inspirational it is to have far flung members of Fibreworks contributing to our discussions. Nothing like fresh eyes, fresh ears and a fresh voice to add further layers to meaning! A very interesting discussion ensued about Paul's work, which he later expounded upon at the KZN Quilters Guild quarterly meeting in Hillcrest, where he was guest speaker. Paul's talk was both entertaining and fascinating and he has assured us that he will give us a write up which I will include in the next newsletter. Thanks Paul!
  • FIBREWORKS XI EXHIBITION 2020 - MicroMacro At the meeting there was a spirited discussion for a title for our Members' show. Thanks to everyone who kindly submitted some suggestions. We finally decided on MicroMacro - another excellent contribution from Odette! For the newer Fibreworks members who don't know, Odette also came up with the name of Major Minors, our now iconic exhibition of small works. Good thinking Odette. Take a moment to brainstorm this title/word and you will come up with an endless array of inspirational ideas.

    It was agreed that the following works/categories would be included in the exhibition. This list is in no particular order of importance:

    • Collaborative work/submission i.e. a member works with Roy Starke's work in some way
    • Member's individual work/submission
    • Major Minors in two formats: A4 and square 25 x 25 cm
    • Some of Roy's work that belongs to Fibreworks will be exhibited, depending on space at the venue
  • FACT exhibition
Here is information from Sheila Walwyn about the FACT show in Cape Town:

The theme is 'Fragmentation' and the same R300 entry applies. This allows the submission of a max 4 pieces and a max of 4 little pieces for the 20x20cm boxes.

They will all have a set price of R750 on them, of which R100 commission is taken off.

Entry is on the understanding that there will be a selection process.

Banking details:

Postage expenses in both directions are for the artist's cost.

I realise that our new date puts a bit of pressure on to produce work on time, but we nevertheless hope for some participation from Fibreworks

Thanks for this Sheila. Should anyone wish to participate in this exhibition, and have any further queries, I suggest you contact Sheila directly.

Walwyn contact details:

Tel 0828878266

A photo of the box that Sheila refers to is below:

The box is made of supawood and is 20 cm square and the depth of the box is 3.2 cm.. The work inside measures about 18..5 cm.

In Cape town they pay R19.50 per box. It is too difficult for Sheila to paint each box and put the work into it, so you will have to resource your own. Try art shops. If you are stuck, phone Sheila.

Outside size: 20 cm

Inside size: 18.5 cm

3 cm deep

Fish in a Box      Empty Box View      View of Box Edge On

  • Exhibition of Fibreworks with Mexican Studies Centre at Wits University

Fibreworks members have been asked to participate in an exhibition in September.

David Guzman of the Mexican Studies Centre at Wits University, asked Jenny Hearn to organize an exhibition of art quilts to be shown together with traditional woven shawls from Mexico.

The title of the exhibition is "Textiles". The exhibition venue will be either the FADA Gallery at University of Johannesburg or Wits Art Museum in Braamfontein.

Jenny has requested all Fibreworks members to consider submitting work for this joint exhibition. Submitting an older artwork for the Mexican show is entirely in order, as the Fibreworks member's biennial exhibition also opens in September and the dates may overlap. Please seriously consider taking part in this show! I think it is a marvellous opportunity to showcase what we do to a wide audience.

Further information such as submission dates and costs (if any) will be sent when they are available.

Member's news:
  • Tilly de Harde:
Congratulations to Tilly on winning two international prizes in the 2019 Brother International Quilting Contest. Tilly was awarded First Prize for her quilt titled Zentangle Owl and was awarded a further Outstanding Performance Award for her quilt titled My Fantasy Garden.
  • Mending the Scars exhibition in the Schreiner Gallery at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg
As you know, four Fibreworks members Annette McMaster, Sue Akerman, Corina Lemmer and Phumzile Dlamini had an exhibition of their work recently at the Tatham in Pietermaritzburg and Odette, on a BA flight in January, came across this in the BA flight magazine:

A variety of mixed media art works deals with issues of pain and healing, with a focus on families and the broad environment. Sue Akerman, Phumzile Dlamini, Corina Lemmer and Annette McMaster are all members of the National Fibreworks Group. Mending the Scars; until 9 February; Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg.

Here is the opening address by Floss Mtichell:


Before I begin what I have planned to say, I'd like to quote two wonderful pieces of writing that I believe are relevant to us here this morning.

The first is by Isak Dinesen. He says of sorrow:

"All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story, or tell a story about them."

Today, here in the Tatham Gallery, this exhibition surrounds us with visual stories.

The second quote comes from Louise Bourgeois, an artist who also works in fibre and to whose work and writing I was introduced to by Annette. Thank you for that, Annette.

"An artist can show things other people are terrified of expressing," and "I am not what I am. I am what I do with my hands."

This morning before leaving home, I did look at myself in the mirror to check that everything was more or less in place and became very conscious that I was wearing black. I was put in mind of Checkov's character, Masha, in the play, The Seagull. She is asked why she always wears black and her reply is, "I am in mourning for my life."

And, yes, we could all hold that position about our lives but, marvelously, there are ways, through finding form for feeling, that can take us from loss and grief to peaceful integration with the present.

Here is a little poem about grief that illustrates this:


There is a grey spot
- a lesion -
darker than a storm cloud
that lurks,
in my soft soul.

It spreads,
some days,
like the pooling of blood,
seeping from a fresh wound
into the very ground
of my sunless being.

It consumes light
and annihilates lightness
until, again,
I am locked in the vice grip
of its reptilian jaws.

Hush, I say.

Let me be still
for this deathly moment,
until my ears hear again
the wild Spring croaking
of the frogs,
the forest of chirping
from invisible dawn birds
in the lightening garden,
and the steady beat
of my own heart.

Mending the Scars.

Since Sue, Phumzile, Corina and Annette asked me to open their exhibition, I have had a marvelous and somewhat unique opportunity to re-visit the world of creativity and its relationship with health and growth, insight and integration.

What a gift to me. I want to thank them from the depths of my Self.

So here we are, heads and hearts and eyes wide open at the start of a journey which is a beginning and an ending and that is also still in process for all involved: for the artists and for those of us who have come here to experience the exhibition.

In what I say this morning, I am going to touch on the ideas of wounding, scarring, fibre, healing or mending, 'alchemy' and 'flow'. I am mostly (and respectfully, I hope) going to let the art works speak largely for themselves. My exposure to them earlier has made me confident that they have iridescent voices.

It occurred to me that when we deal with life's woundings and sorrows and unexpected complexities, (all the physical, visible ones and the invisible emotional ones, permanent or transient), we are invited by the intensity and the pain, like Alice in Wonderland, down a mysterious rabbit hole.
Sometimes, like Alice, we have no idea that we are on the edge of an adventure of the soul or psyche. And we often can't imagine or predict or even be slightly conscious of what we will have to do to negotiate our way through, or what the outcome is likely to be.

Just before Alice follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole, she is dozing lazily, unaware, lulled by the warmth next to her big sister, who is reading in the sun. Everything is familiar and safe and undemanding.

But listen to what happens:

In another moment, down went Alice, never once considering how in the world she would get out again ... Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well...

Down down down. Would the fall never come to an end. I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth ...I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth ...

Alice's adventures challenge her physically, emotionally, socially, in terms of her identity, and even deeply spiritually. Her experiences are intense. She has no choice but to go through them in order to find their meaning in the end.

It is my impression, after spending some time with the artists, that all four of them were moved by life circumstances that have been painful, surprising and challenging, to find, not only expression for, but elegant, eloquent and beautiful form for feeling. Each of them has been down the rabbit hole with Alice.

Fibre is their medium. There is something very apt in their choice of this medium as fibre is central in the structuring of all materials on our planet: in fabrics, in muscle structures and even in vegetables. Fibre is also a word we use to describe a character with moral integration, as in 'a person of fibre'.

We can easily picture the woundings that we are all vulnerable to: loss, rejection, scorn, humiliation, physical shock (as, for example, with the onslaught of cancer or of crumbling bones), ageing, the empty nest when the children leave home, being misunderstood or misinterpreted or feeling disconnected from and unseen by community and significant others, being lonely, or perhaps being whipped by the uncomfortable or immoral expectations of others.

Wounding is always raw at first. But what's to be done? Miraculously, the body shows us the way.

I learned a new word when my middle child had a horrifying accident on a quad bike at the age of ten. There followed a series of plastic surgeries. The surgeon gave me, a terrified mother at the time, a word I hadn't known before and which I have loved and found comforting ever since: GRANULATION.
I looked up its exact meaning again for today and here's a definition:

"Granulation tissue is new connective tissue and micrscopic blood vessels that form on the surfaces of a wound during the healing process. Granulation tissue typically grows from the base of a wound and is able to fill wounds of almost any size."
I believe, when you adventure through today's exhibition, there will be consummate evidence that the fibres worked with by the four artists have followed the process of granulation. Whether the woundings have been physical, relational, emotional, familial, spiritual or ecological in nature, the artists have gone about the process of mending the scars left by their woundings, starting at the very base of their wounds.

Brilliantly, the works of art in the exhibition are, themselves, scars.

In looking at the works, I was struck by an inherent paradox: here we have art works that are, themselves, symbolically, the scars of episodes of wounding - and yet they are beautiful. The paradox, as you look at the works, is often shocking. I was draw, for example, towards the prettiness of one of Annette's works only to find that it was a representation of her scar from cancer surgery. What magical containers, summaries and pathways-out they are for the 'Dark Nights of the Soul' experienced by Sue, Annette, Phumzile and Annette.

In creating these pieces, each artist has unconsciously entered processes akin to alchemy, turning base metal, or their raw wounding, into 'gold'.

In relation to the work process of any artist led by lived experience (visual artists, writers, dancers, musicians), we could compare the idea of alchemy with what has come to be described as 'FLOW'. In my conversations with the artists about their experiences of creating the pieces, it was clear to me that FLOW was experienced by and led them.

I am going to offer two descriptions of FLOW:

"Flow is the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task and is a strong contributor to creativity. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness and the mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating."


"There's this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback..." and can move on with each step of finding form for the feeling. What has been unconscious becomes conscious in the artistic form and, as a consequence, possible to integrate in the psyche of the individual. The works of art become an extraordinary example of human communication which we are fortunate to be able to participate in this morning.

In relation to the health and healing that 'Flow' (experienced during the process of creating) is generating a body of interesting research. Dawn Garisch, a colleague and friend in Cape Town, a medical doctor who also facilitates Life Writing, or memoir writing, workshops is studying the relationship between emotional and mental health and the process of creative writing. In one of our workshops a young participant wearing a Fitbit was able to record that three to five minutes into her writing, her pulse rate would consistently drop to a healthy level.

Now it is a pleasure for me to invite you to spend some time seeing how Phumzile's work fends off the scarring of social pressure and the losses people experience through urbanisation; let Annette's courageous and delicate work draw you in to understand the depths of personal terror and loss as she " stabs the cloth with her needle" (and I quote her here), in spite of a fear of being misinterpreted; enter Corina's world of desperate love for the land and for the work of farmers and the layers of its subversion and sabotage by circumstance; and move, with Sue, through the singing mirrors and nests and hands that represent the rich golden thread of family that has run through her past and that informs her present.

Three of the artists are here. All four are members of the national Fibreworks group and have had the excitement and comfort of discovering that, although they work independently, all their work resonates of very similar human themes that have emerged as they have worked.

I invite you to approach the artists with questions and conversation if there are specific pieces you may want to talk about.

The artists and the whole exhibition, draw us down the 'rabbit hole' to the deep well of the unconscious, springing into fibrous forms of conscious beauty.

It is a great pleasure, and a joy, to declare this exhibition open.

Thank you. Floss Mitchell December 2019

Wow! What an opening address!

I am so sorry, Sue, Corina, Phumzile and Annette, that I was unable to attend this exhibition opening.

Thank you Floss, wherever you are right now...

And finally, here is another exhibition to consider submitting your work: ?

Fibre Arts Australia

With great excitement
announces a new and important
Art Textile exhibition into the fibre/textile arts calendar.

$6000 non-aquisititve AWARD

The Art Textile Biennale seeks to exhibit the best of contemporary art textiles and invites submissions that reflect a wide range of works related to the textile medium. The goal of the exhibition is to include innovative work rooted primarily in textile as well as art that explores unexpected relationships between textile and other creative disciplines.

The exhibition runs in conjunction with

East Gippsland Art Gallery, Bairnsdale, Victoria.

16th October ? 28th November 2020


Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Toowoomba, Queensland

3rd April ? 31st May 2024

The Art Textile Biennale is produced and managed by Fibre Arts Australia.

Open to fibre/textile artists WORLD WIDE


Best regards to everyone out there
Jeanette and the Team

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