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Newsletter June 2009

Dear ALL

Dates to diarise:

  • Grahamstown Festival: Wednesday July 1st Opening of 'Intertwined' -Sally Scott's Solo exhibition opens. Carinus Art Centre. More on this later.
  • Grahamstown festival: Kathryn Harmer Fox. 21 African Street. More on this later.
  • Mid July. Submission of e-mail images of actual work to Sue Greenberg at
  • Early August. Deadline for accepted work to arrive at Artisan. If you have problems with submitting your work, speak to Sue directly.
  • Monday 10th August 6:00pm. Opening of Vista exhibition at Artisan Gallery, Florida Rd. Professor Kate Wells will open the show.
  • Saturday 15th August 10:30am. Walkabout/talkabout of the Fibreworks show by participating members at the Artisan Gallery. More on this later.
  • End September Artisan exhibition closes.
  • End of August Contemporary Reflections at Tatham Art Gallery ends.
  • Thursday 22 October to Saturday 31 October. Retreat to be held at Linda Jones's home in Plettenberg Bay. More on this later.
  • Saturday 24 October 2009 AGM.
  • February 2010 entries for Jabulisa 2010: KwaZulu Natal artists are asked to submit work. More on this later.
  • June/July 2010 Fibreworks VI National members' exhibition at artb Belville, Cape. Exact dates still to be confirmed.

Next meeting: Friday 14 August 2009 at 10 am. Venue: Artisan gallery in Florida Road.

  • Forthcoming exhibition:

  • Artisan exhibition. Florida Road.

    As everyone is by now aware, the theme of our exhibition is VISTA. This is a broad, wide theme. Clearly, pretty much anything goes!

    I am pleased to tell everyone that Kate was delighted when I asked her if she would open the exhibition! For those who don't know, Professor Kate Wells, an authority on African craft and textiles, heads up the Masters in Graphic Design at the Durban University of Technology. I look forward to her opening address.

    Please also note that there will be a walkabout of our show on Saturday 15th August at 10:30 am. If you have work on the show and live in or are in the vicinity of Durban at the time, please make every effort to attend and support the walkabout. Remember that this is always an excellent opportunity to interact with the public and educate them about art and specifically fibre art. Tell your interested fibrearts friends about the walkabout. This will include informing, IN ADVANCE, any quilting guild and or art group that you attend or run.

    Sue Greenburg is arranging an ABSA potter's market outside her Gallery on Saturday 15th. The pottery stalls will attract all kinds of folk who'll be making their way down Florida Road so hopefully there will be a festive feeling around and in the gallery. This is exactly what we want and need. See you there.

    Please contact Sue Greenberg if you have any queries.
    Contact details: e-mail address:
    Cell telephone number 083 301 5747

    • Achievements of Members:

    • Annette McMaster, Sue Akerman, Jutta Faulds, Jeanette Gilks and Corina Lemmer
    • Contemporary Reflections

      I have learned form Bryony Clark, Deputy Director of the Tatham Art Gallery, that this particular exhibition has been one of the most exciting exhibitions the gallery has hosted for some time. As a result, the show has been extended to the end of August. There has been a very positive response from the public who have picked up the enthusiasm of the artists themselves.

      Have a look at the Tatham art Gallery website: and read all about this current exhibition. It's a very good website - informative and easy to navigate. The Contemporary Reflections site gives you in depth-visuals on all the artists' work plus preparatory work, as well as the Artist's Statements.

      Look too, and find my "Garret Artists' Drawing for 20 years Retrospective"! August 2008.

    • Sue Stevenson, Gillian Gerhardt.

    • The Department of Arts and Culture had a craft competition in January 2009 in three categories namely ceramics, textile and woodwork. Both Sue Stevenson and Gillian Gerhardt won cash prizes. Celia de Villiers was one of the curators.

    • Sally Scott and Kathryn Harmer Fox

    • Both of these artists are exhibiting at Grahamstown Festival this year, so keep a look out for them.

      Sally is at Carinus Art Centre in Beaufort Street and the opening of her work and her students work is on 1 July. Margie Garratt will be there to open it.

      Sally's exhibition is a celebration of ten years living on her own and documents her road to health and wholeness. In the brochure it says:

      'This exhibition reveals the interconnected nature of Sally Scott's work. It features her fibre art, her landscapes and the shoes made by students in her Red Shoe Project. The work is an exploration of inner and outer landscapes and is essentially about life, love, truth and the power of the human spirit.'

      Kathryn is exhibiting with four other artists at no 21 African Street under the banner: ART BUFFET. One of the artists will be serving healthy meals from the venue all day long, from the start of the festival to the end. The house is opposite the old village green.

    • Annette McMaster and Kathryn Harmer Fox

    • Both Annette and Kathryn are finalists in the Pfaff Art Embroidery Challenge in France! Well done and good luck for the finals!

      Annette was a finalist last year. Fortunately she will be going overseas later this year and will be attending the prize-giving at the Knitting and Stitching show in London.

    • Rosalie Dace

    • Rosalie is teaching and jurying across the USA for six months of this year. She took the small works entitled 'Mark In Time' with her. This is what she wrote early June:

      '… I've had news that the 'Mark In Time' show was very well received in Rochester. So thank you to all the people who sent work. I do not know if they showed everything, but I think so. As a result of that I've been asked to show it at QBL (Quilting By The Lake) in Syracuse, New York in July. I will be there for that, so look forward to seeing it there.'

      Thanks Rosalie and happy traveling. We are looking forward to hearing your news on your return.

    • Celia de Villiers

    • Celia is an adult educator in fine art and a multitude of crafts. She has served on selection panels, curated and adjudicated numerous exhibitions locally and abroad of which the most recent is National judge for the 23rd ABSA L' Atelier Awards for 2008 and Head judge, National Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards 2009. Her artworks and articles have appeared in numerous publications.

      Celia travels nationally and internationally to facilitate and consult for the Arts in Action community outreach initiative and is a board member of the WasteArt Foundation. She was nominated as a finalist for the Woman of Substance (Mosadi wa Kono-kono) by the Gauteng provincial government in 2006 and was a University of South Africa nominee for the UNISA Shoprite/Checkers Woman of the Year and the winner of Ekurhuleni Mayoral Achievers Award for Job Creation in the Arts and Crafts sector during 2006. She is a member of the Advisory board of the South African Department of Arts and Culture 2008-2009.

      Celia will co-curate the AFRICAN MÊLÉE EXHIBITION - Traditions, Magic, Rituals and Heritage - at the 15th Carrefour European Patchwork Exposition, St Marie-aux-Mines, Alsace, France from 17th - 20th September 2009. Have a look at the website:

      Last year's Innovative Threads, taken to France by Celia and Susan Haycock, presented an ensemble of fibre art, which was very well received by the European Patchwork audience and organisers. Building on successful representation and lectures given by Celia in 2006 and 2008 (and various prominent South African fibre artists before her), at the Carrefours European Patchwork Exhibition in Alsace, France, returning in 2009 presents an opportunity to build on the good rapport.

      African Mêlée
      Ancient handcraft traditions continue as living heritage in large areas of remote Africa. The African Mêlée exhibition aims to introduce the unusual handmade processes, fabric traditions and symbolic use of textiles on the African continent. African Mêlée at the European Patchwork event will provide much needed and desired, international exposure of the exceptional talents of Southern African embroidery artist's and textile artisans. The proposed theme will feature the traditions and rituals associated with the textiles of Africa, and the embroidery 'story-telling' medium of Fibre Art. It will highlight the context of heritage and cultural significance of African textiles in relation to 'Traditions, Magic, Rituals and Heritage'.

      The exhibition will consist of a combination of textiles from the women of Mali using methods involving natural dyes such as mud and tree bark and fabrics from the Fula tribe in West Africa containing traditional indigo stitch-resist patterning. The Mossi tribe from West Africa will present vibrant coverings combining long thin strips, traditionally woven by men. The collection will include examples from a talented Ugandan artist who transforms banana fibre into beautiful textiles and the amusing Kanga cloths from Zanzibar in East Africa depicting the transmission of personal, political and cultural messages.

      Thanks Celia, for your ongoing, pro-active involvement in Fibre Art and Textiles.

    • Odette Tolksdorf
    • Congratulations to Odette for her new web site:

    • Sue Akerman

    • Quilt National 09 is the 16th biennial juried exhibition of contemporary art quilts at the Dairy Barn Arts Centre in Ohio. It was juried by Sue Benner, Katie Pasquini Masopust and Ned Wert. There were over a thousand entries of which 85 were selected from 25 states and 13 foreign countries. Sue won the 'The Most Innovative Use of the Medium' which is the second best prize that they award. She went to America for the prize giving.

      I asked Sue for her impressions on her trip:

      'Working on the fringe as a fibre artist'

      Life is an extraordinary journey which leads us often to places that we never dreamed we would ever go. This year was one of those years. A trip to America was as farfetched in this year's planning as flying to the moon, and it all began with me entering a quilt into the above exhibition...and this is how it started:

      After the Fibreworks members' exhibition last year I was wondering what to do with my piece 'Africa Scarified IV' that was on display. It was too big for my house and where should I put it? Deep inside me I have this thing that if I can't use something someone else must. Or was it my mentor as a child prodding me and saying 'share it'?

      So after many hours my poor husband got all the correct pixels and resolutions and I sent the image off to be juried...then came the reply that it had been provisionally accepted until it was physically seen. That was an expensive exercise as it had to be there...Ohio USA in 10 days. So courier it was at R1800 and me feeling sick! Should I really do this? Off it went.

      Celia de Villiers and Jeanette Gilks have often alluded to the fact that we as fibre artists work on the fringe of the art world.

      I have always enjoyed this analysis as I am probably a rebel at heart, always trying to push boundaries and breaking rules. This fringe that we work on allows us to invade other art disciplines whereas if we were confined to the fine art world we would most probably have more fixed parameters.

      Fibre art on the fringe for me has a connection to my earth, my medium and my passion as well as allowing me the audacity of invading the art and craft world we find on either side of us. We happily exist between these two disciplines - on the one hand pushing and challenging crafters to see further than the craft and on the other hand invading the galleries in the fine art world and finding a place there. Searching at the same time to have this medium accepted by the fine art world. It's all about the Textile Medium - this is where the controversy lies. We in Pietermaritzburg are lucky to have the support of The Tatham gallery and staff, who always support and in fact push this medium's wider acceptance.

      And so this time I invaded the American Quilt world. Yes and having won the prize for 'The most innovative use of the medium' I think I probably made quilters, or some, think about looking for fabrics in other places other than fabric shops and quilt stores!

      Another exhibition and it was the usual - some pieces that I didn't stop for, a lot of what I'd seen before here and abroad, a debate about the best on show and some odd choices as to why these pieces were exhibited on the exhibition, and then of course the pieces that I really enjoyed. This makes one start thinking of the juror process and all that that involves - which I will discuss later.

      There were many pieces made up of photographic components i.e. photos that had been transferred onto fabric and stitched together. These works photograph very well but in real life left me wanting more. Somehow I felt that most of them were exploring a medium that hadn't sufficiently integrated with the fabric that it was printed on. Some photographs just look better printed on paper. This is my personal issue. Perhaps it would be nice to discuss this at a later stage.

      Possibly 'the fringe' also alludes in some ways to the South African art world and our position on the planet - we are down at the bottom of the African continent doing amazing things and being innovative because we aren't in the main stream. I say GO South Africa! I felt incredibly privileged to be a part of our Fibreworks group and so proud of our work. Many of us should and could be on this show to knock people's socks off! There were 13 countries and 25 states in the USA represented.

      So back to why we went on a trip. I had been told that I had won a prize and that they were hoping I would come. My first thoughts were all negative. We didn't need this expense and that I really am not mad keen on the limelight, and I hate that trip, so I asked my American sister if she would mind collecting it for me. I had a very curt reply...'get your butt over here and collect it yourself!' So that's when we decided that it was meant to be.

      Prizes and accolades bring a whole different issue to mind. How do they leave you feeling? I have to say firstly excited and then rather vulnerable. Where to next and how do I top this one? But I also felt good about where I was in my little world… that I should just keep going in my direction, wherever it leads me. One humbly accepts what comes one's way as the next time around with different judges and jurors who knows what may happen! When entering a competition or exhibition you had better be emotionally strong enough to know that the judge's choice is final and that you may not agree with all the decisions made. You had better enjoy any accolades that come your way as in another place on another day with other jurors you may not even be accepted. That's the harsh reality. So never think you have arrived, even if you make the What's On column in the Wall Street Journal! My husband was and is my best support and it was fantastic doing this trip with him. He thought that I'd arrived when he read the mention I got. After all, he says he's never even made the Natal Witness!

      Pricing was an interesting exercise as the exchange rate always creates various complications for us. It was brought home to me yet again that you need to research this before putting prices to your work in another country. Under valuing your work makes it look cheap, but on the other hand you don't want to be greedy. To illustrate what I am trying to say: my piece was sold on the opening night, was given the 2nd biggest prize money and yet it sold for less than most pieces on the exhibition! Now I am not saying that I was unhappy with the price. Bear in mind that I am an unknown in the American world and converting it back to rands, I would not have got as much if sold here. It is just thoughts to ponder on. And yes I could have justifiably charged more!

      New York City was an absolute high and a must go to place. Now voted the safest city in the USA we certainly found it that way. Stayed with friends over looking lower Manhattan from the 21st floor of an apartment in Brooklyn - it was like fairyland at night. It was the architecture that blew my mind. Grand central station and the New York City Library are must sees. Oh and dogs that wear shoes and slippers! My friend has a tour of free places and things to do for poor South Africans! It's brilliant.

      Despite watching a 40 minute display of the thunderbirds above our roof top in Colorado springs as the aircraft academy graduated, with a backdrop of the snow capped Rockies, going to the MOMA in New York, and experiencing the American hospitality and patriotism, it is always good to be home. My roots are too deep; I love the edge and the fiber that this country affords us. So thanks South Africa for giving me the edge! This time!

      Thanks Sue, for a lively report back on a memorable trip. Well done.

      If you want to visit the web site the address is

    • General

    • AGM 2009 - 24 October 2009
    • Retreat - Thursday 22 October to Saturday 31 October

      You should all have received Dana's letter regarding the retreat. For those who can't find it here it is again:

      Hi Everyone,

      There have been a couple of questions regarding the breakaway in October. So here are the details.
      The breakaway will be from Thursday 22nd to Saturday the 31st October 2009 at Linda's home in Plettenberg bay. She has 5 bedrooms with king size beds and some spare mattresses that can fit on the floor in some of the bedrooms, so 16 people will fit comfortably and if necessary, a couple more with a little bit of a squash. Linda has invited us to stay and there is no charge for the accommodation. We will however all have to share the expenses for our meals, the cost of which can only be determined when we're there. I suggest we all contribute to a kitty when we arrive.
      The AGM will be on Saturday 24th, the following week we will be making dolls called Soul Mates. If you are interested in taking part, please let us know and we'll send you a list of basic requirements. This will be a very open and creative workshop, loosely structured and without restrictions.
      Closer to the time a map to the house will be sent to all who are going.
      It is a long drive from Durban and Jo'burg and is better done over 2 days. A good place to overnight is Graaff Reinet. If you are going to fly in and hire a car, George is just over an hour from Plett and PE is just over 2.5 hours. There are lots of road works on the PE road so it could be even longer. If you are not going to keep your car for running around, site seeing, shopping etc. during your stay, then note that there is a drop off and pick up fee for hired cars between PE and Plett, at the moment this doesn't apply between George and Plett.
      Please confirm with Linda as soon as possible if you will be attending. Linda's phone number 0828705732.
      Dana Biddle

      PS Margie has also offered accommodation in Knysna - so even more people have the opportunity to attend the AGM and retreat.

    • Web site
    • The Web site is up and running. Please check that all is well and let Helga know if there is a problem.

    • Jabulisa 2010

    • Jabulisa 2010 will be a broad spectrum celebration of contemporary visual creativity by artists and crafters in KwaZulu-Natal. Works in all styles and media may be entered for this event that is organized by the Natal Arts Trust.

      Artists and crafters are invited to begin preparation for selection that takes place in February 2010. A maximum of three works per artist may be submitted. Only works completed after 1 January 2007 will be considered.

      Further information is available at all KwaZulu-Natal art museums. The exhibition opens at the Tatham Art Gallery to coincide with the 2010 World Cup.

      KZN Fibreworks members should make every effort to submit work to this show. Please contact Kobie Venter at the Tatham Art Gallery for more information if necessary:

    • And finally a note from Annette:

    • Dear Fiberwork(er)s,

      Please forgive me if this is not the right forum, but I would like to thank everyone who has sent me e-mails, cards and letters of condolence. I have also received 'phone calls and have had tremendous support from a number of you after the sudden and shocking passing away of Mark.

      I value all of your friendship incredibly and have been very comforted by your kind words and gestures.

      Lots of love,
      Annette McMaster.


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