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Newsletter December 2012

Dear ALL

Dear All,

Dates to diarise:

  • Wednesday 12th December 2012. 10:30 for 11 am Opening of MACS Quilt Challenge exhibition, followed by a walkabout/talkabout. Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg. More on this later
  • Thursday 13th December 2012. 6pm. Opening of Fusion exhibition. Tatham Art Gallery, Pietermaritzburg. Celia de Villiers to open the show. More on this later.
  • Friday 14th December 2012 10 am Tatham Art Gallery. Walkabout/talkabout with Sue Akerman, Bruce Atwood and Gill Gerhardt. After the walkabout there will be a Christmas Party at Annette's house. More on this later.
  • 15th January 2012 International Quilt Convention Africa. Fibreworks invited to exhibit as a group. Closing date. More on this later.
  • 10 February 2013. Macs quilt challenge comes down
  • 2 April 2013. IQCA Challenge Entry Forms to be submitted. More on this later
  • 12 - 14th April 2013 Major Minors IV exhibited in Kenya. More on this later.
  • 1st July - 7th July 2013 National Quilt Festival in Bloemfontein. See web site for more details.
  • 19 August 2013. Submission date for National Portrait Competition. More on this later.
  • 31st August 2013. IQCA work to be with Dana Biddle.
  • 6 - 8 September 2013. International Quilt Convention Africa at Emperor's Palace. More on this later. The web address is:
  • 2014 Fibreworks VIII. More on this later.

Christmas Party at Annette Macmaster's house. Friday 14th December after the Fusion walkabout:

Address: 8 Kingston Lodge
60 Campbell Road
Chase Valle, Pietermaritzburg

Annette's Telephone number: 033-3479003
E-mail address :

This will be a Bring and Share Christmas party so please RSVP ASAP so Annette can ascertain numbers and to make sure we don't get 50 mince pies and no wine! She is in a much smaller space now so we may also need to bring along extra chairs, cutlery and plates etc.

Here is also an opportunity to connect with Celia. I know she wants to see as many of us as she can. Hope you can come!

Fibreworks minutes

I have incorporated most of the minutes of the October AGM into the main body of the letter. Additional AGM information will be included in the following newsletter, as this one is already getting long! Many thanks for the valuable email correspondence that flew backwards and forwards amongst interested Fibreworks members prior to the AGM. It was heartening to find so many of the members very passionate as to the future direction of the group. In the following newsletter there will be further thoughts and information on this matter. Watch this space.

As Chairman again for the next two years, I was happy to conclude 2012 with the final letter.

Members present: Helga Beaumont, Jeanette Gilks, Sally Scott, Margaret Ruxton, Judy Breytenbach, Gill Gerhardt, Annette McMaster, Sue Akerman, Jean Powell, Dana Biddle and Leonie Malherbe
Apologies: Margie Garratt, Catherine Knox, Fiona Kirkwood, Margie Letts, Karin Arbeter, Sheila Walwyn, Elaine Barnard, Linda Jones, Kim Tedder, Odette Tolksdorf, Rosalie Dace, Jutta Faulds and Sue Physick


  • Major Minors IV

a) Local Major Minor exhibitions in South Africa:

Major Minors IV was successfully launched at the Emperor's Palace in Johannesburg earlier this year. Thanks to Dana Biddle who curated the show in this venue. 100 catalogues were sold! The next leg of the exhibition was the Artisan Gallery in Durban which opened at Artisan Gallery on October 3rd Thisis the third time we have exhibited at this gallery. Thanks to all those who attended the opening and who contributed, in any way, to its co-ordination and setting up. There were two lively reviews and interesting interviews with Dana Biddle, Margaret Ruxton and Jeanette Gilks in the local press. Sue Akerman sold her 'Nest' in the first week! Two works from Celia's Intuthko's group also found new homes.

Although we do not normally allow any work to be taken during the duration of an exhibition, there are some exceptions, and I think it worth mentioning them again: If buyers are from out of town and it's simply not possible for them to collect the work at the end of the exhibition; or, if failing to give the work to the buyer immediately would result in a loss of a sale. I'm pretty sure this is standard gallery procedure. That's why galleries like to have extra work that is similar, to fill gaps, if need be. Everyone was happy in this instance, Ingrid the gallery owner, the buyers, and the artists. A win-win all round.

Dana Biddle has offered to take on the responsibility coordinating the Major Minors exhibition as it travels around the country.
This job entails:
  • Liaising with and motivating the Fibreworks member(s) who live/s in that part of the country
  • Keeping written records of events i.e. exhibition itinerary, email conversations with people, actual whereabouts of the artworks/ sales of artworks/ etc. At present the Major Minor artworks are at Helga's, safely stored. It's really important that we keep track of our artworks. It is very easy to forget that we have forgotton!
  • Liaising with Helga and Jeanette regarding the exhibition arrangements and whereabouts.

Here below is Estelle Hudson's inspiring prose-poem opening address for the Artisan exhibition:

Thoughts about a Fibrearts exhibition.

I am a Narrative Therapist. Trained, influenced and mentored by Michael White
from Australia.

Narrative Therapy has a unique vocabulary for the work of therapy,
it talks about conversations between therapist and narrator;
it talks about the expert being the person whose story it is.
Narrative Therapy is about telling and re-telling of stories to re-author one's life;
it talks about a problem saturated life being multi-storied
where the rich potential is realized and where healing happens.
It talks about exercising curiosity in every aspect of the story
which starts with a thin description
and over time becomes a thick description
with layers of meaning.

I could go on waxing eloquent about Narrative Therapy, but my frame of reference
tells me, and informs me that this body of work has all these qualities:
It presents us with a rich vocabulary
It is about conversations, the artist with herself and the artist and the art with the viewer;
The narrator, the artist, shows an expertise in her use of the medium;
And the telling and re-telling of her story in the piece she exhibits, re-authors;
moves from a thin description to a thick description to multistoried layers of meaning.

Now sewing is a rather domestic chore,
developed through the years by mainly women into a finely tuned skill.
Embroidery goes back centuries, and there is much evidence in history that
every girl child was taught to embroider and make her 'sample.'
However women have also worked hard not to confine themselves to mending, darning, sewing buttons on, but have used the needle and thread and fabric
to become artists and create works of art such as we have here.

Michael White has used the sentiment proposed
by social scientist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu to
'to exoticise the domestic'
to further enrich the vocabulary of Narrative work To exoticise the domestic
- which is how I see this body of work -
is to create of the ordinary world something extraordinary.
The territory of the domestic of women's lives which is sometimes considered routine and even monotonous is rendered exotic. These works of art become journeys
'to destinations that cannot be specified or predicted on advance of arrival.'

I lived with the Fibreworks catalogue next to my bed for the last couple of weeks.
I have read with great interest how the artists describe
the Process and Journey of the making of the works.
'I love the storytelling, image making, the texture of the fabric....'
'the work hovers on the border of memory and reality....'
'the experience links us to crafts and artists of the past....'
'the process of multilayering reveals and conceals,
reinforcing the meaning of the work….'
It is narrative embodied:
of events of their lives, their thinking, their identities,
and sometimes the neglected aspects of their lives.
For me many of these art pieces are Journeys into the psyche
where consciousness contributes significantly to the rich story development
and which is a source of inspiration.

I have discovered a book entitled The Subversive Stitch by Rozcika Parker
Subtitled 'embroidery and the making of the Feminine,'
and in the description she says,
'the re evaluation of the reciprocal relationship between women and embroidery has brought stitching out from the private world of female domesticity into fine arts, created a break through in art history and criticism, and fostered the emergence of today's dynamic and expanding crafts movement'.

What appealed to me was the title of this book The Subversive Stitch. I would like to think that there is the element of the subversive in all women artists,
where we have had to fight for our right to be artists, our right to exhibit at an equal level with male artists and get recognition in the art world.
It has always taken the spirit of the suffragette
to demand justice and freedom of self expression., no less in art.

I congratulate the Artists who have 'exoticised the domestic'
and contributed to the identification of extraordinary worlds and cultivated the resurrection of diversity in everyday life through needle, thread and fabric.
I have much pleasure in declaring this exhibition open.

  • International Major Minor exhibitions

Jeanette Gilks and Helga Beaumont have offered to take on the responsibility of coordinating the international shows, as we have done in the past. We will give you the periodic updates of the exhibition's successes and whereabouts. We
reserve the right to exclude work that is not suitable to travel overseas.

I am pleased to tell you that I have been in touch with Dena Crain and the Major Minors exhibition will be travelling to Kenya in March next year in 2013 to be exhibited there in April. I will be getting final confirmation about this in mid December. We have been invited to exhibit with the Kenyan Quilters Guild. I am in the process of negotiating that the show also goes to Canada with other African quilts. There is also the possibility of it traveling on to the USA with the Kenyan Collection. I await further details regarding the USA tour and will keep you posted.

At the AGM the idea to include non- South African members was brought up once again. Dena Crain has expressed interest in joining, together with other interested Kenyan members. There are pros and cons, as has been discussed many times before. The decision taken at the AGM was that we needed at least 60% agreement from members whether or not to go ahead and change the Constitution.


The decision to persuade members to take five books and to deposit R200 or R250 into the Fibreworks account right away (if you were a participant in the book you got one free) has resulted in R11200 being deposited into our account. We have never been in the red, but I am uncomfortable when Bank Balance talks to Rock Bottom! Thank you, all, who have made a concerted effort to get these little books moving about. Dana said they 'flew through the door' in Johannesburg at the launch. This makes an intriguing visual picture! Indeed, where there is movement there is life. Thus far 300 catalogues have been sold. They make a perfect little gift and are a good way to advertise yourself as well as the group.

Thanks, Jutta for putting us into touch with Denise Berjack, the printer in Pietermaritzburg. She was a delight and I hope we can have dealings with her again

  • Fusion Exhibition Tatham Art Gallery PMB

Sue Akerman, Gillian Gerhardt and Bruce Atwood are exhibiting work at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg. It will be opened by Celia de Villiers on December 13th 2012.

For more information on this exciting exhibition read the last newsletter! Celia will be staying with Sue for a few days after the exhibition opening and attending our Christmas party at Annette's.

  • Yesterday's News - Tomorrow's Promise. Tatham Art Gallery PMB

A MACS quilt challenge. I have just spoken to Jutta and she tells me that this should be an exciting exhibition with some unusual materials and interpretations!

I believe there is to be a walkabout/talkabout after the good tea/coffee and biscuits at 11am so try and be there if you are in the area - either to talk about your work or anyone else's that you find irresistibly… worth talking about!

No, you didn't need to make a bed cover or wall hanging but a small, A4 sized artwork in any medium, but with a quilt-like appearance. The theme, 'Yesterday's News - Tomorrow's Promise' could be freely interpreted. You were encouraged to break with tradition and create something different and exciting, e.g., using recycled paper and glue.

A number of Fibreworks members have contributed to this exhibition and it is going to be exciting to see it all come together.

  • International Quilt Convention Africa. Special Fibreworks Exhibition at Emperors Palace 2013

    Dana Biddle has information for us regarding an important exhibition at the Emperor's Palace, Johannesburg. Here are the facts:
  • Fibreworks have been asked to exhibit as a group, at this prestigious show next year. The IQCA exhibition this year was a grand success and it's to be repeated, bigger and better!
  • The IQCA exhibition will definitely be traveling overseas somewhere. At this stage France and Australia are being looked at as possible destinations.
  • We will not be required to pay anything, either individually or as a group, in order to participate in the traveling show ie the second leg of the Johannesburg show
  • The IQCA show in Johannesburg cannot accommodate any 3D work unfortunately. Hiring plinths is too costly. All works submitted will be wall mounted.
  • For the JHB leg of the show, Fibreworks members are at liberty to use any of the kinds of fibres/ materials that characterize our particular way of working. These works, however, may not travel, if they contain uncured leather, multitudes of feathers, bees wax, bones etc. (We have heard these stories before when we exhibited at Innovative Threads. Be mindful of them).
  • Maximum dimensions: 900mm X 900mm. It can be a single piece or more to make up the size.
  • All work must be sent hang-ready.
  • New work is recommended, but is not a prerequisite. If old work is selected, do not submit work that has been seen in Johannesburg.
  • Please let Dana know by 15 January 2012 if you intend to take part in this exhibition. She needs to know in advance the space requirements of the Fibreworks exhibition Her contact details: or

  • The International Quilt Convention Africa also has a juried exhibition called "Free to Express". The closing date has been extended to 2 April 2013. See the web site for more details.

  • Fibreworks VIII

We are considering having Fibreworks VIII in the Eastern Cape, provided we can be one of the main events at the Grahamstown Festival in 2014.

Catherine Knox is investigating possibilities at this stage. Odette Tolksdorf and Helga Beaumont are at present putting together a stunning Fibreworks PowerPoint presentation to show case the best of Fibreworks. Thanks to those who sent slides of their work.

  • South Africa's first National Portrait Award.

R100 000 awarded to the winning portrait!

Sanlam Private Investments, in collaboration with Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery, Durbanville, has initiated South Africa's first National Portrait Award. A single prize of R100,000 will be awarded for the best portrait. In addition to the prize, the winning portrait along with a selection of approximately 40 entrant works will be exhibited at the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery in Durbanville, after which the exhibition will tour to venues around South Africa.

The award is open to anyone resident in South Africa older than 21 years.
Entries should be received by 19 August 2013.
A panel of three judges will identify the winning portrait, and select additional works for the national touring exhibition. All works will be judged anonymously as artists are requested not to sign the work.
The award ceremony will take place on 27 August 2013 at the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery, Durbanville, where the selected works will be on exhibition an open for public viewing from 28 August 2013 until 8 October 2013.

For entry forms see:

We have submitted an advertisement about Fibreworks to the South African Art Information Directory for 2013. Thanks Helga and Dana for dealing with this. Dana and I agreed that Helga should receive a free copy of the directory.


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