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Newsletter June 2007

Dear ALL

Dates to diarise:

18 July Fibreworks Margate and Major Minors II returned to Durban. The work will be dropped off at Odette's house. Arrange with Odette to collect your work by the end of July as she is away in August. 031 2662978

11 - 16 October. These dates refer to the nights of our annual retreat at Santie and Graham's beloved Sewula Lodge. This will be the Fibreworks Sewula Swansong. COME! It's an experience you ought not to miss. Confirm bookings with Jacky Geldorf 036 352 2485

13 October AGM at Sewula Lodge. I am sure there will be prospective members work to assess. PLEASE make every effort to attend our AGM so we can HEAR YOUR VOICE/OPINION. I hope we will have LOTS of NEW work to view! Now is the time to consider issues that you feel need to be addressed with the WHOLE membership.

30 November. Submission of visuals for KZN members' exhibition in Winchester gallery, Hillcrest. More on this later.

March/April 2008 KZN Fibreworks members' exhibition Winchester gallery, Hillcrest

November 2008? Fibreworks V National Members' exhibition . More on this later.

Clearly, there is nothing hectic to communicate in this newsletter! So just relax, for a change, with a hot cup of chocolate, snuggled up somewhere warm in the current, nationwide FREEZING weather, and ruminate over some interesting TEXT on the Fibrearts…

Meeting at Odette's. Friday 25 May.

Members present: Sue Stevenson, Jeanette Gilks, Odette Tolkfdorf, Rosalie Dace, Sue Physick, Sue Akerman, Annette MacMaster, Jean Powell, Judy Breytenbach, Carolyn Zelenka, Leonie Malherbe
Apologies: Helga Beaumont, Margaret Ruxton, Santie McIntosh

Next Meeting: Friday 27 JULY 9:30 for 10am. NB Note that the next meeting will be at SUE AKERMANS in PMB and that the time has been BROUGHT FORWARD. We need to get cracking with the meeting earlier (in order to have MORE time revving it up over lunch!)

Achievements of members:

· Rosalie Dace received three invitations to exhibit work in the USA.

· Sue Physick, Jutta Faulds and Annette MacMaster exhibited their work in an exhibition titled, 'From Pulp to Fiction' at the Tatham art gallery. Annette had work juried into an English exhibition, 'Art of the Stitch'.

· Carolyn Zelenka recently ran a workshop in the Midlands teaching dying techniques on felt and fibre and also had a solo exhibition at Indigo Fields, a small art gallery in the Natal Midlands

· Jeanette Gilks had work juried into FLESH! an exhibition curated by Chris Diedericks for the KKNK 2007, an arts Festival in the eastern cape.

· Sue Physick came down to Durban last week and supervised the construction of a Plaster-of-Paris bust of Sue Stevenson. A number of us looked with incredulous fascination as Sue Stevenson was transformed into what appeared to be a living plaster-cast mummy. Helga and I took photographs, visually documenting the process. We will have these remarkable images burnt onto a DVD and hopefully show everyone at the AGM. Thanks to the two Sue's and Annette.

Should YOUR name be here? Please EMAIL ME your achievements or I will never get to hear about them.


Sue Stevenson is happy to have her head buried in collating the not-quite-ancient-history of our group! (Earlier she had her head buried in Plaster-of-Paris, remember). She will bring all the material she has put together for all to see at the AGM at Sewula Lodge. She needs CV's. Here is a list of the CV's that SHE HAS. If your name DOES NOT appear on this list, Sue needs a copy. Send it to her snail mail or give it to her at the AGM when you see her in October: Elaine Barnard, Celia de Villiers, Margaret Ruxton, Judy Breytenbach, Jeanette Gilks, Fiona Kirkwood, Margaret Letts, Frieda Sonnekus, Carolyn Zelenka, Jean Powell, Lynette Douglas.

Sue is keen to gather together ANY photos, invitations, newspaper/ magazine articles etc. particularly of earlier exhibitions/events. Do you have anything? Please hand over anything you feel would be of interest. If you want to keep the originals that's fine, just make copies and send them to Sue. Contact details: 031 903 1527, cell 084 519 0912.

Web site:

Helga tells me that the changes to the web site will be available for all to see by the end of July. I presume that you are happy with the images that Helga has of your work.

Fibreworks and the general public:
Dana Biddle has agreed to be our national PRO. She is happy to write articles about Fibreworks activities and exhibitions and send these articles off to various appropriate magazines, at least three months before any exhibition opening. There is a better chance of the article getting published if we supply the editor with 300/500 dpi resolution images of our work. Fibreworks members will supply these images to her and slowly she will acquire a visual file of our work. THANK YOU Dana for agreeing to do this for Fibreworks and for sharing the load of coordinating the group.

It makes sense that local Fibreworks members ought to be responsible for contacting the press a few days before any opening in their area and supplying them with information on the upcoming event and good resolution images of the local artists' work.

I would like to raise the issue of promotion and advertising of our group at the AGM so give this some thought and have suggestions to make.

Major Minors II:

The following works were sold:

Hlenge Dube - Woman's Power
Lubi Koorts - Introspection
Leonie Malherbe - Energy
Sue Physick - Friends with Fruit
Sue Funston - Aquatic Dancer
Carolyn Kode - Hidden Beauty
Margie Garratt - Mother's Touch and Generations
Sally Scott - Saturn's Gift 1 and Saturn's Gift 2
Fiona Kirkwood - Energy Square
Kim Tedder - Perhaps a Princess

The new owners will receive their masterpiece after 18 July and the artists their monies due. Well done on a wonderful show.

All the Major Minor II art works will arrive together with Fibreworks Margate on the 18 July. Please make the necessary arrangements to collect your work from Odette. The sold works will be sorted out by Odette. She will send them to their new owners if they are not there already. I am sure I can bring some of the JHB work to Sewula Lodge in October if you like, just let me and Odette know.

Monies owed to Fibreworks:

Margaret and Helga have told me that there are still some subs and hanging fees outstanding. Fees are R150 and hanging fees are always R100. Please check! THANKS to those of you who are always thoroughly up to date with payments.

Remember that no one is obliged to participate in every exhibition that Fibreworks offers. Exhibiting is expensive, time consuming and exhausting.

Fibreworks Margate: Margate Art Museum April - July 2007:

I asked Craig Huey, the curator of the Margate Art Gallery, to write a review of the show and to hand it along to the local press, which he did. Here it is:

'The Fibreworks group exhibition currently on show at the Margate Art Museum comprises of approximately fifty 25cm x 25cm works of the travelling Major Minors II exhibition accompanied by an additional seventy five works by group members that vary in size and date. Observed in its totality, the exhibition reads as a celebration of a dynamic range of media, activities and processes employed by a collective of artists, illustrating how this tactile and visually stimulating medium can be used in a multitude of ways.

Appliqué embroidery is the basis for the many of the works that imaginatively use and explore a diverse variety of media that may include plastic, tin, photocopies, buttons and other found objects. These seemingly disparate materials are manipulated and fused together in many different ways and with vastly differing outcomes by the individual artists, producing unique tonal and textural interpretations of the chosen subject matter. Abstract designs and figurative elements are innovatively rendered in visually spectacular displays of craftsmanship, resulting in a wide spectrum of vibrant and shifting images within the exhibition. Whilst all pieces within the show remain wholly discrete and individuals in the group may work towards different outcomes such as figurative, abstract, or design driven work, there seems a valuable interaction and exchange of ideas, techniques and disciplines throughout that often make these boundaries indeterminate.

Whilst experimenting is obviously a vital and intrinsic part of the creative process, it is evident that great value is placed on rigorous preparation, drawing and general prep-work. Linear works directly transcribe study drawings into descriptive stitch-work embroidery of various shapes and forms where other, more fluid marks, are more painterly and imprecise, capturing moods, mystery and tension. To compliment and connect these decorative and narrative elements, careful consideration is paid to balance, structure and the dynamic tension within the picture frames resulting in harmonious and freshly descriptive pieces of work.

In conclusion, it is attention to detail, exemplary craftsmanship and the innovative, unreserved use of media combined with a firm sense of engagement and process that makes this exhibition an exciting and appealing body of work. Whilst individual works merit further critical analysis to explore further issues or aspects, it is in its entirety that Fibreworks reveals a tantalizing snapshot of the potential of textiles and an opulent panorama of differing perspectives that are continually changing and exploring the material world around us.

Craig Huey.
Curator Margate Art Museum. June 2007
The following work was sold:
Helga Beaumont - Ethereal II

NB We consider work to be sold ONLY WHEN THE MONEY APPEARS IN OUR BANK ACCOUNT! A reserve on a work lasts 24 HOURS ONLY. If nothing more is heard from the buyer and/or no money appears in our account, after this time, the work goes BACK on sale.

Fibreworks TEN Nova Constantia April 2007:

A big THANK YOU to Sheila Walwyn and Margie Garratt for their Time, Help and Pleasantness before/during/after the TEN exhibition. Only when you have coordinated a show do you realize what is involved and the time it takes to iron out even small difficulties. A BIG thanks too for their decision to waive monies owed to them: jointly they have saved Fibreworks R4000! Fibreworks is a non profit organization and consequently runs on all manner of generosities...

Margie suggested that Judy Moolenschot, BA Fine Art (Unisa), and local drawing teacher, write a review on the exhibition. I decided to print her review in full. Here is what she said:

'This current exhibition has all the many advantages and some of the disadvantages of a large group show.

As with similar exhibitions in the past, the first response is delight at the feast of colour, texture and vibrancy that excites one visually and draws one in for a closer look. It is when the viewer begins to become more intimately involved with each piece that the differences in quality and content become apparent. The viewer needs to be able to adopt a very inclusive mind set which also requires the ability to define categories for oneself because inevitably in any exhibition it is impossible to avoid comparisons. Works on the show could be grouped in a number of different ways but broadly speaking I categorized the works as 'Representational'; 'Traditional', 'Contemporary ' and 'Conceptual' with possibly a separate category for some 3 Dimensional works.

In the "Representational" category the works of Leonie Malherbe were technically strong and the subtle and simple designs gave movement and impact to what were essentially Still Life compositions. Her image of stacked bowls was slightly abstracted and lively as well as a good example of excellent workmanship and presentation. Lubi Koorts has explored indigenous flowers as subject matter, which is a worthwhile project but it would be more exciting if she experimented more with composition, abstraction and some unpredictable elements. Sheila Walwyn has tried to accomplish this in her Circles of Life. These works are very strong in terms of colour, texture and presentation and satisfying for many viewers. Experimentation with more original images could be a really exciting break through.

In this category one could include the Ten Cows for Lobola by the women of the Keiskamma Art Project. The cows created out of fluffy blanket type fabric and collaged with various mixed media for textured interest, are striking and honest. The embroidered words and names enhance and add significantly to the meaning of the work. This cannot be said for some other works where too much text appears to have been added, perhaps in a misguided attempt to be more 'contemporary'. Too many unnecessary words can sometimes overload the image and detract from visual impact rather than deepen meaning.

Amongst those works which I would classify as modern but also "Traditional" are the abstract hangings of Judy Breytenbach, Odette Tolksdorf, Rosalie Dace and Sally Scott. These well known and very experienced artists always produce work of an exceptionally high standard and their understanding of the formal elements of composition such as Colour, Texture and Tone are only exceeded by their amazing craftsmanship. Their works are always professionally finished which should be encouraged even amongst those artists who strive to work within a Contemporary or Conceptual paradigm.

This aspect is often weak when artists are attempting to be more expressive. There appears to be a general misapprehension amongst many contemporary artists that 'messy' is part of being expressive! If these exhibitions were to be curated with a as a contemporary protest work which retains some of its origins in the quiltmaking paradigm but has a powerful and topical message. The unpredictable shapes, lines, textures and forms as well as the painstakingly quilted text give it a modern energy. The use of text taken from reports on AIDS to quilt the layers together, is an important part of the meaning and visual impact.

Paul Schutte's Tree of Life resembles a drawing. It is constructed with torn fabric and clever use of colour and pattern. The effect is lively with the frayed edges of the selection process in place, this criteria of Professional Presentation would be one of the ways of ensuring an extremely high standard.

It is interesting to note that there are far more artists moving towards "Contemporary" or "Conceptual" forms of expression. These works have a specific 'message' and often include text and other materials such as metal or paper. Where one could divide the two categories is at the point where the fibre art moves away completely from the quilt making origins. Therefore I would categorise Margie Garratt's work, Angry about AIDS materials adding to the dynaminism much as charcoal or ink marks might in a work on paper.

Celia de Villiers' Liminal Rite has crossed over from the quilt tradition and become something unique and deeply moving. This work is totally abstract and becomes difficult to classify. It is completely mesmerizing in its expressive and excessive use of materials, colour and shape. The shawl shape could be seen as an extension of a quilt shape but the significance of a shawl as protection combined with the vibrant, provocative colours such as cerise, orange and cool reds make the viewer participate in very personal dialogue with the work. This, in my view, makes it a conceptual piece.

Other interesting "Conceptual" pieces are Sue Akerman's Tense, which is notable for its exquisite layering of newspapers enclosed in black tulle and red lace. In fact, this part was so satisfying for the viewer that I felt the bound figures and crosses were unnecessary even though they were very well constructed. Perhaps in some way they are more "in your face", less fragile and therefore less powerful?

With this in mind, one work which has a very powerful message and real visual interest is Barbara L'ange's Missing. It is somewhat overloaded with words and faces whereas the beautifully crafted shoes and just the word "Missing" once or twice somewhere could be far more evocative. This work too is one that is not very well presented. The sides of a white canvas always look far more professional when painted to compliment the imagery.

The work of Margot Hattingh, Ten Der Alchemy is deceptively simple. Perhaps this is not strictly speaking Fibre Art, but nevertheless an interesting and compelling work. After returning to it a number of times, I realized that the shrines with 10 green bottles had almost a monumental impact and definitely proves that 'Less is more'. With this in mind I must express a vague disappointment with Elaine Barnard's very large and complex work. Despite the many striking combinations of colour and texture and the beauty of certain elements like the embroidered faces, I feel it is a brave experiment that has not quite come off in the way her previous works have done. Often artists try too hard when they are wanting to move on and get lost within their many ideas and concepts. It is possible the work could still be refined and resolved with some careful thought.

Amongst the other Conceptual art works on show are those of Karen Bradtke, Remnants of Childhood , in the form of a plaited mat, which is very striking and unusual and also Santie McIntoshe's interesting garment Safely Pinned.

The long digitally printed floor piece by Fiona Kirkwood , Survival, intends to shock and succeeds. It initially seduces the viewer with its excellent use of limited colour - pale gold ochre shapes on an indigo background. Closer examination reveals that it is a very clever design created entirely of patterns made with scanned images of condoms. It is probable that many more large digital works will be seen at future Fibreworks exhibitions

Jeanette Gilks' Doll Project is inspirational and fascinating. Many viewers spent a long time pouring over her journal and looking at mixed media images suspended between two scrolls of paper that could be turned. The link to Fibre Art is still rather tenuous as is Sally Scott's digital Antarctic prints but the images from both these artists that refer to works in progress, definitely created focal points and discussion.

The 3 Dimensional works such as the neckpiece by Sue Stevenson; Birds of Good Omen & Blessing by Kim Tedder and the fabric crowns by Margaret Ruxton are all impressive for their masterly craftsmanship. The Rag Dog by Catherine Knox has potential but was rather too understated and alone to make much impression. Perhaps it needs to be part of a much bigger group to say something more?

In assessing these works - and I am unable to cover every work within the scope of this article - I have tried to use Fine Art criteria which is my own field. It is often difficult to do this with an exhibition where the participants are not all working within these parameters. However, I would like to single out Karin Lijnes work, Not a Dollar, which is probably one of the most compelling works on show and definitely fits very comfortably in the the Fibre Art, the Conceptual and Fine Art categories. This very large image of an American One Dollar note has many rewards for the patient and critical viewer. The intricate beadwork, the dense layering of both materials and meaning and the very topical imagery create an unsettling and yet fulfilling experience. This is an artist to watch and collect!

The old debate between what is Art and Craft, is not the only problem I encountered. The difference in the level of craftsmanship and professionalism between different exhibitors is vast. A one-time lecturer of mine, John Clarke, said that, "An exhibition is only as strong as your weakest work." I believe this is true but I also believe that being too exclusive in this instance could be self-defeating as one would want the interest and participation to grow and flourish.

It would be excellent if this could be addressed in some way so as not to become exclusive but to encourage artists to use a better approach. Possibly there should be an agreement to accept only work which is very well finished, mounted or suspended, ready for exhibition.

Curating and organizing exhibitions is a challenging task and I do feel that the Fibreworks exhibitions and Fibre Art in general has moved rapidly towards and into the Contemporary Art world and should be encouraged to continue to blurr the boundaries between Art and Craft in this very stimulating and exciting manner'.

Judy Moolenschot April 2007

Thanks, Craig and Judy, for your comments and for taking the time to write comprehensive reviews. Time is precious! I really appreciate the efforts you have taken to be both broad and thorough. Artists always find observations that have been made by an informed critic especially noteworthy.

The following works were sold:
Annette McMaster - Into the Universe
Phumzile Dlamini - Fragility, Creativity in Women's Hands, Woman's Minds
Leonie Malherbe - If we stand tall
Helga Beaumont - Tree in Ten

Since all the guest artists unanimously and enthusiastically responded to our invitation to take part in TEN, we have sent them ALL letters inviting them to submit work in order to join. These include: Document of Intent, Submission procedure for Prospective Members, this newsletter and a short history of Fibreworks. I received a delightful thank you card from Peter Clarke, the invited paper maker, who lives in the Cape. I am sure we will find some of these artists juried into the group.

Fibreworks V National exhibition:

Jean Powell is presently making enquiries for us to exhibit at the NSA in Durban in September/October 2008. She is currently putting together a presentation for the exhibitions committee who would also jury all work submitted my members. More about this show at the AGM.

Winchester Fine Art Gallery - Hillcrest:

I followed up on a lead that came via Rosalie and Leonie regarding a gallery in Hillcrest and Odette and I visited *Sue Winchester - curator/owner of the gallery. Here are the details:

Winchester Fine Art Gallery - 20 Loop Road Hillcrest, opposite the Hillcrest Christian Academy on Inanda Road - is an upstairs/downstairs intimate, thatched gallery with hanging opportunities for a few large works. These would/could be suspended from beams in the ceiling. The gallery has airy balconies and also makes use of kitchen and bathroom hanging spaces. There are easels for rigid works and a few tables. The gallery has had good press coverage and has twice been Gallery of the Week in the Mail and Guardian.

Sue Winchester is keen to exhibit work of the KZN Fibreworks members next year. Sadly, the gallery IS JUST TOO SMALL to accommodate work from our entire membership. For those KZN members who ARE interested in exhibiting in this gallery, here are the details:

· Visual images of work submitted by the end of November.
· Only virgin work to be submitted.
· Sue juries all submissions. Submit photographs or digital images.
· If work is to be submitted digitally, use 20/30/40 dpi's. NO bigger
· Remember to submit your contact details.
· Important to include dimensions of the work as the gallery is small. Height and then Width in millimeters, eg 500 X 400mm.
· Sue will select the work she wants from the submissions and then contact the artists directly.
· In Jan 2008 she will contact the artist(s) whose work she would use to advertise the show. They would need to supply her with a few good resolution images - 500dpi's - for the local/ national press and magazines.
· All work must be for sale. Bear in mind that there will be a 30/40% mark up so adjust the ARTISTS ASKING PRICE accordingly.
· R100 submission fee as usual, irrespective of the number of works submitted. This fee will be paid as a gallery rental
· Emailed invites will be sent out a month before the show, and local, interested parties are SMS'd a week before as a reminder. Sue does NOT send out any hard copy invites
· Should your work be selected, YOU will deal DIRECTLY with Sue. Helga and I do not oversee exhibitions unless they are national shows.

*Sue Winchester was the handwork teacher at the Waldorf school for eight years and is the daughter of renowned artist Hannes Harrs, best known for his collage- textiles using Kuba cloth. His work features in many public and private collections in South Africa and abroad. website:

Sue is keen to meet Fibreworks members, so make an arrangement to contact her and visit her gallery. Contact details: 083 673 7975

Love you lots


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