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Newsletter December 2007

Dear ALL

First let me apologize for the last newsletter if it did not arrive intact on your computers! Most odd. I have not yet managed to unravel the problem and no one seems to know why this happened. I am perplexed because the problems were not consistent, nor were they universal: some members, I hear, didn't receive the emails at all, others received everything perfectly. If this remains a problem, I will try sending all the newsletters from my computer next time. Please let Helga or me know if you received a peculiar newsletter and we will resend it. In addition, we cannot guarantee that the newsletter looks as professional on your computer, as it does on ours! You may well have to re align your pages. Many thanks for your patience.

Dates to diarise:
December - January 2008: Jutta Faulds: Solo Exhibition at the Tatham Art Gallery
16 - 18 May Beadex 2008: An invitation from Beadex attached to this newsletter.
24 August 2008. Setting up Fibreworks V at the artSPACE durban gallery.
More on this later.
25 August Opening of Fibreworks V
13 September 1pm knockdown of Fibreworks V at artSPACE durban.
8 - 14 September National Quilt Festival in Alberton, South Africa.

Next Meeting: 29 February 2008, 10.00 for 10.30 at Jeanette's


· Jenny Hearn and Jeanette Gilks
These two members have had work selected that will appear in a book called
Masters: Art Quilts. It's an American publication, Lark Books. The book is due to come out in May 2008. Work selected will take the form of a mini retrospective. The Editor has said that the book will be a 'real beauty' so we look forward to it living up to expectations. We'll get two free copies of the book and an honorarium of $200. Nice!

· Jutta Faulds
At the Tatham Art Gallery, Jutta has a solo exhibition, based around the image of a Mandala. This exhibition should not be missed. Sue Physick, Helga Beaumont and I saw the exhibition before Christmas and we found it both inspiring and meditative.


I am pleased to report that we have a venue for the opening of our National Members' exhibition - the artSPACE durban. The exhibition will run for two weeks. At Sewula, there was discussion of Fibreworks V moving on to Cape Town, and I will keep you posted on further developments.


Here at last is Jill Joubert's opening address for the FIBREWORKS TEN exhibition at Nova Constantia in April this year. Apologies for not printing it earlier! Sometimes important things get buried beneath a wealth of (urgent) trivia… Digest this WONDERFUL address - it was one of the best I've ever heard and it is very good to read too - with celebratory champagne and mince pies… We are so lucky. There is much to celebrate:


I feel both privileged and humbled to have been asked to open this very special 10th anniversary exhibition of Fibreworks. I pay tribute to each member who has worked so hard to network country wide, make wonderful work, organize biannual exhibitions and successfully reach your 10th anniversary. Congratulations! May there be many more to come.

The aims Fibreworks - as written on the information sheet Jeanette sent to me - are as follows:

Fibreworks aims to promote textile/fibre as a serious art form, providing both emotional support and intellectual stimulation for its members, most of whom are women. (About 50 artists nationwide)

When Jeanette and I were at Michaelis School of Fine At in the early 70's, we had not yet heard about Linda Nochlin's ground-breaking text: Why have there been no Great Woman Artists? Written in 1971.

For the same reason, claimed Nochlin, that there are no great Eskimo tennis players.

Historically, it was about opportunity: women were simply not allowed to be artists or become members of European art academies. Unusually in South Africa, there have always been significant women artists - Judith Mason wryly suggests that this is because "art is simply not important enough".

Feminist artists and art historians, post Nochlin, started to unpack several deeply rooted Western notions about art history:

Firstly Art History was that, "His-Story": it had always been written by men, about men. Secondly Art History itself was defined in the Renaissance with the first art historian, Georgio Vasari, who wrote biographies of artists called the Greatest Painters, Sculptors and Architects, so defining what art was: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture.

Feminists both uncovered the lives and works women artists in the past, many of their works previously attributed to their masters (Judith Leyster: Frans Hals, Artemesia Gentilleschi: her father) but they also challenged what art was. Why is painting a more important art-form and not embroidery for example?

American artists, Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro purposefully used embroidery, and textiles in their works to challenge this idea. Sandra Kriel in SA did the same thing in the 1980's with her award-winning picture embroideries.

The Feminist or Woman's movement paved the way for the art-craft debate. This is of particular importance in SA where traditional African crafts like bead-work, basket-weaving and pottery has finally found their rightful place in art galleries alongside paintings and sculpture.

The women who are part of Fibreworks have inherited this history, but seemingly members of the public remain unconvinced, thus their aim to promote textile/fibre as a serious art form. Do we doubt its value when looking at the variety of works on display all around us? Is it because a needle is used instead of a brush? Is there even a debate as to the value of the works on display - aesthetically, intellectually, spiritually?

The contemporary debates around art, craft, women's' art, the purpose of art and so on which so consume us were non-existent thousands of years ago when the goddesses created the earth and walked the lands with the creatures and beings they made. Many of the creatures we now chase out of our homes or lock in zoos inspired humans and taught them skills. In those far away golden years at the dawn of creation. I want briefly to re-visit those times, because the artists of Spiderworks are fulfilling the ideals of an illustrious ancestry: I want to pay tribute to the animal patron saint of all Fibreworks. The spider.

The spider weaves her web in the air thus becoming an intermediary between the animals of the earth and the sky. She protects us from the insect world by catching them in her web. She is also potentially deadly as from time to time she devours her mate. She is magic and potent because she weaves with threads she draws from her own body.

After anchoring the circular space (format) of her web with strong threads, she starts spinning from the center, moving outwards, round and round with complete methodical focus, embodying the virtues of patience and industry. She holds on with two front legs (or are they arms?) and pulls thread from her abdomen and sticks, pulls and sticks with her other four until a beautiful open-work web is complete. It could take p to 2 hours (human-time). Women multi-task … Imagine if we had six arms and two legs?

The word spider comes form the Old English, Spinan, meaning to spin. The word Spinster, arose from the ancient idea that spinners of fate were virgin goddesses who spun the fate of human lives and the world. Rak in Greek corresponds to the word meaning to stitch together, to weave, to Arachne - the fine weaver in Greek myth.

The feminine attributes of fertility, magic and witchcraft identify women. seamstresses, spinners and weavers, fibre-workers with the spider.

We meet a 'spinner of fate' in the witch in Grimm's fairy tale, Briar Rose (The sleeping beauty). Biar Rose meets the witch in a tiny attic room on her 15th birthday and asks to play with her spindle, pricks herself, bleeds for the first time and meets her fate - to sleep for 100 years before she is woken by the prince and lives happily ever after. The witch is the wise woman of life who brings adversity to teach us about living.

The Greek goddess, Athena, born from the head of her father Zeus, was both the warrior woman and the weaver. She taught Arachne how to weave but became so jealous of her pupil's celebrated skill, she turned her into a spider.

I wonder what Athena would have done to all the women of Fibreworks tonight?

I want to end with my favourite spider story, so paying tribute to the artists of Fibreworks:
Spider-Woman was the early creator for the Hopi Indians living in the Arizona desert. In myth, it was she who saw the empty desolate and silent land and it made her sad. She took earth and water from her mouth and with this spittle fashioned two beings. She wove a beautiful soft white cloth to cover them with the human attributes of wisdom, knowledge and love and she then sang them to life. She taught them how to care for the world by bringing beauty and richness in abundance through their creativity and so bring joy to each other. Using her creative wisdom, she then fashioned four women, each of a different colour clay, to mate with the twins and so begin the promise of humankind.
To the artists of Fibreworks - May your organization and wonderful work be sustained as you bring joy to yourselves and the world through the work you do.
Thank you for continuing the work of Spider-woman in our time and for using your wisdom, knowledge and love to bring us the richness, abundance and timelessness of your art.

Jill Joubert April 2007


Printed at the end of the newsletter are ALL the updated documents that you need to give prospective members/interested parties regarding joining the group. I suggest you make a few copies, staple them together and keep them handy. Please note that YOU can/must spread the word about the group - NO NEED to channel said parties through Helga or me.

Thanks Rosalie, for putting together the 'Fabulous Fibre!' inclusion. It's perfect. She told me that much of this information was gathered from various fibre/textile websites and that some interesting websites include:,,,,,

She also suggested that we add to this list in upcoming newsletters. Good idea. If you have found an interesting website, tell me and I will let the rest of us know. Part of the value of working in a group is that when we share we don't get half, we get double.

Google ' fiber+art ' or just ' fiber' / 'fibre ' and you get some fairly hectic sites!



We are pleased to learn that you are interested in joining Fibreworks. We are a dynamic, proactive group - always keen to hear a new voice!

Please find the following documents here attached:

o Submission requirements
o Fibreworks Document of Intent
o Fabulous Fibre!
o A short History of Fibreworks
o The latest Fibreworks newsletter

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards
Fibreworks members

Jeanette Gilks (Chairman) e-mail address:
Helga Beaumont (Secretary) email address:



Thank you very much for your interest in Fibreworks.

Should you be interested in joining the group, please submit the following:

1 Some written information on yourself and your work. This could take the form of a CV or it could be more imaginative and personal.
2 Slides/CD/photographs of at least TEN of your works. The images should include the whole work as well as some close ups/details. Please title and date the work.
3 At least TWO actual works. This is very important.

NB Please note that these 10 pieces can be taken from any period in your career, and may also include experimental pieces from your portfolio.

The physical work plus photographic/written material must be suitably packed and sent to Odette Tolksdorf by

Postal address:
Odette Tolksdorf
83 Jan Hofmeyer Rd
Westville 3629
Durban KZN

Tel: 031 2662978 e-mail:
Please advise Odette that you have sent a parcel.

Fibreworks members will be convening for our AGM in October and all members present will assess the work and will cast their vote. Votes are of equal value, thus ensuring that the selection process is fair and democratic.
After the meeting we will contact you. Please make sure that you have suitable arrangements in place for us to return your work safely. You will be responsible for all costs entailed.
Kind regards
Fibreworks Members

Jeanette Gilks Chairman
Helga Beaumont Secretary


· To promote textile/fibre art as a serious art form and to establish a group committed to this ideal.
· To hold a national biennial exhibition. This may form part of a national convention/AGM.
· To hold an annual AGM / national convention. Assessment of prospective members' work by all members present will form part of the AGM.
· To generate interaction, new challenges and critical input.
· To hold regional retreats organized by individual members.
· To circulate a quarterly newsletter which will include important information of interest to the group as a whole, for example, future exhibition dates and venues, updates on exhibitions/events, achievements of members, edited minutes from Fibreworks meetings and illuminating / controversial articles submitted by members themselves.

National convention / AGM held in October will include:

· A presentation of prospective members' work. Please refer to the Procedure for Prospective Members form.
· Discussions/lectures/workshops presented by members and/or invited guests.

The national convention / AGM will be the opportunity for all members to meet and get to know everybody in the Fibreworks group as it will be the physical meeting of the entire organization - in fact the only occasion at which the whole group will be required to come together.

The AGM will be an opportunity for prospective members to show their work to the Fibreworks members present in order to promote appreciation, understanding and discussion. It will therefore be in the interests of individual members and the organization of Fibreworks as a whole if the national convention / AGM is attended by all members.

What members decide to do regionally to spread the word about the organization will be entirely up to them.


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. Work may be composed of numerous different types of fiber in combination with other materials such as paint, dyes, embellishments or found objects.

Alternatively fibre art can be work whose subject matter/content is fibre.
Fibre refers to materials that are made up of continuous filaments or elongated pieces similar to lengths of thread. These include:
Natural fibres. Both vegetable and animal. Cotton, hemp, jute, flax, sisal, linen, paper, textile, pulp paper, leaf and seed fibre. These also include spider silk, sinew, cat-gut, wool, hair, cashmere, mohair and angora.

Mineral fibers: Asbestos is the only naturally occurring mineral fibre. Among the others are metallic fibre drawn from ductile metals like copper, gold, silver, steel and such fibres as nylon, acrylic, Tyvek etc

So as you embark on your work 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, spinning, weaving and knotting.

These materials can be torn, dyed, burnt, frayed, glued, painted, embroidered, woven, ripped, cut, folded, crumpled, hammered, layered, looped or otherwise manipulated.
Fibreworks encourages artists to investigate all these possibilities whatever they are making, be it garments, wall art, vessels, sculptures, books or something as yet undiscovered.
Art is not just a concrete object. Rather it is the experience of the artist transcending the literal. The foundation of any artwork lies in the knowledge of materials through which the artist finds his or her own voice, giving the work originality and perhaps a quality of mystery.


Fibreworks comprises a group of about 50 artists nationwide who work in a fibre/textile medium. Fibreworks aims to promote textile/fibre as a serious art form, providing both intellectual stimulation and emotional support for its members, most of whom are women. We have meetings every three months or so and Jeanette Gilks edits the quarterly newspaper. A number of our members are internationally renowned teachers and fibre/textile artists. Our works appear in public and private collections both in South Africa and abroad and have been published nationally and internationally.

The group was formed in 1997 and since then we have had four, biennial national exhibitions: the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg hosted Fibreworks I and II and the gallery bought some of the art works for its permanent collection. Fibreworks III opened at the Merely Mortal gallery in Gauteng in May 2004 in 2006 Fibreworks IV featured about 45 works at Upstairs@Bamboo in Johannesburg. This exhibition, including other works by members, was on show at the African Window in Pretoria in February 2007. In April the show travelled to the Margate Art Museum in KwaZulu-Natal. The exhibition in Margate showcased work hot off the press together with work that had been created over the last decade, thus illustrating a variety of trends and directions.

In addition to the national Fibreworks exhibitions, Fibreworks members decided on a travelling exhibition of very small works - 25cm X 25cm - called Major Minors. A small catalogue, nominated for a design award by the publishers, accompanied the exhibition. This miniature exhibition opened in 2003 and subsequently travelled world wide. It was viewed with great acclaim in the USA, Germany and New Zealand before travelling all round South Africa.

The success of Major Minors I prompted the launch of Major Minors II exhibition and a new, sleek, silver catalogue accompanied the inaugural launch of Major Minors II at Museum Africa in Johannesburg at the end of 2005. We were then invited to exhibit Major Minors II at the prestigious Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne and in Queensland, Australia in early 2006.

On its return to South Africa, the exhibition travelled to Cape Town where it featured at Innovative Threads - a nationally and internationally renowned exhibition that showcases some of the best fibre/ textile art in South Africa. Major Minors II was later exhibited at artSPACE Durban in September 2006.

This year - 2007 - saw the 10th anniversary of the Fibreworks group and we decided to celebrate our achievements in an extra ordinary exhibition called, 'TEN'. There was a fascinating range of work from two dimensional to three dimensional and from literal to more metaphoric interpretations of the theme. In addition to members' participation in the show, we decided that we would invite ten guest artists to celebrate with us. A community art group also featured: the Keiskamma art project.

Our exhibitions are a rich and varied experience as the artists, using predominantly fibres and textiles as their means of expression, freely incorporate a mixed-media approach to materials and techniques. Rosalie Dace, a Fiberworks member, describes our works as displaying, '…a variety of colours and techniques long used in Africa, (dyeing, printing, embellishment with beads, natural and found objects). Freshness and unpredictability, colour, sensitivity and strength reflect the energy of Africa today '



The web site is now finished. Please check your pages, and let Helga know of any changes - if necessary.


16 - 18 May
Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

Thebe Exhibitions and Events, on behalf of Ingelosi Trading, led the way in 2007, by providing a platform, at this prestigious, state of the art venue, for the development of skills and the promotion of products within the bead and jewellery-making industry.

The excitement brewed and the hall was abuzz with visitors jostling to see and buy the latest products in beads, jewellery and accessories. Exhibitors were rushed off their feet as stock was converted into cash.

NOW….in order to keep the vibe flowing and that tangible excitement in the air, Beadex will be introducing NEW ELEMENTS to this, already successful, show!

An exclusive setting to market those masterpieces of style, art and design!
Join in the fun by taking advantage of this great opportunity to exhibit….to teach….or to enter the Beadex Design Excellence Competition.

FIBRE ART is NEW to this market and the Beadex team would like to invite you to share your knowledge and your creations in one of the following ways:


‡ Beadex 2008 will be introducing a NEW category into the existing Beadex Design Excellence Competition: FIBRE ART

‡ Entries will be charged at R50 per entry

‡ Minimum of 10% of surface of entries to be embellished with beads. Any kind of beads.

‡ Medium of artwork will be "free choice of fabric or fibre" and can be exhibited in the format of "wall mounted hanging", three dimensional art work, free standing art work, wearable or non wearable art. NO ceiling hung art pieces will be admitted as there are no facilities at the venue for ceiling hung display.

‡ The artwork must be submitted as a "ready to hang" entry with clear exhibiting instructions.

‡ Finalists will be selected in all categories of the competition and there will be monetary prizes awarded for the top 3 overall winners.

‡ Competition entry pieces may be offered up for Auction - The artist is to set a "reserve price" (selling price). This reserve price, if met, will be paid to the artist. Any monies received from bids OVER & ABOVE the set reserve price, will be donated to a charity, pre-selected by Beadex. Should the reserve price NOT be met, the item will be packed for collection by the artists courier company at his/her expense.

‡ Competition entry forms will be available on-line mid January on

‡ All other competition rules apply.

‡ Entrants are responsible for ALL courier costs and insurance of travel, to and from the venue.

Judges are selected and invited by Beadex management, but, as this is a new category, Fibre Works are welcome to submit names for consideration. Judges receive NO remuneration for this duty. They are invited as guests and receive a Thank you gift after Awards have been presented.

We have 2 x "Demonstration" stands and any artist may apply to offer demo's on any of the 3 days over the show period.


Teachers of Fibre Art may apply to run a workshop by completing the Teacher Application form which is available on the website now. PLEASE NOTE that the Workshop programme will be loaded onto the website on the 28th Jan 2008, therefore ALL applications must be received by no later than 7th December 2007. PLEASE NOTE: Photo's of "similar" projects may be submitted for loading onto the workshop programme, should the finished item of the selected project not be completed in time.

STAND BOOKINGS for the Décor and Fashion Hall are now OPEN!

3sqm, 4sqm and 6sqm stands available.

The Décor hall will be well sign posted, decorated and advertised in advertorials, the show programme, press releases, leaflets and on our website

All stands include: shell scheme walling (pegboards and hangers available on request), spotlights, power point, carpeting and pre-printed fascia board.

3sqm - R4650, 4sqm - R6200, 6sqm - R9300. All prices EXCL VAT and EXSA of R1-75 per sqm.

Normal exhibition stand application forms, together with the rate card and floor plan are available on the website.

For more information please complete the attached provisional booking form and we will contact you to assist in getting you on board for this" Journey Through the World of Beads".


Should you not be in a position to take a stand, Beadex would like to offer the Fibre Works members, the opportunity to display their pieces on the NEW WALL OF FIBRE ART at the exhibition venue, for the duration of the show

Minimal cost: R750 per piece.

These need to be "booked" and paid for in advance in order to reserve space on the "Wall".
Application forms will be on-line by end Jan 2008.

Full exhibition display details to accompany pieces, together with Selling Price, a short write up on the piece and the artist, and contact details of the artist.

Courier costs and any insurance for travel to be covered by the artist. Beadex will take responsibility for the receiving of goods, the display of goods and the packing of goods for collection at the end of the show.

We are very excited about the prospective inclusion of this dimension to the show and look forward to your feedback regarding this proposal.

Please don't hesitate to contact me or Alison on 011 5498300

Warm Regards,

Carla Massmann,
Senior Coordinator ,Events Division,Thebe Exhibitions and Events South Africa

( +27 11 549 8300 / 7 +27 11 549 8525) /

Take care,


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