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Newsletter December 2015

Dear ALL


P.O.Box 749 Fibreworks account details
KLOOF Name of a/c: Fibreworks
3610 Name of bank: ABSA
KwaZulu-Natal Hillcrest Branch 63200500
October 2015 Account no: 9104464545

Dear All, Dates to diarize:
" 1 May Entry form for Major Minors VI to Dana Biddle. More on this later
" Deadline for submitting art works to Fynarts Festival in Hermanus, next newsletter.
" 20 May 2016. Submission deadline for Major Minors art works to Dana Biddle in Heidelberg, 17 Pepperboom street. Her email address is
" 10th - 19th June 2016 Hermanus Fynarts Festival. More on this late
" 30 August 6 pm GFI Gallery Opening of Fibreworks IX . More on this later.
" 30 August to 18 September Fibreworks IX at GFI Gallery in Port Elizabeth
" October 2016 - opening of another joint South African/USA quilt show. More on this later.

Our fourth meeting for the year was held in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday 17 December at 10.30 am at Tea on 23, Carbis Road.
Present: J. Gilks, O. Tolksdorf, H. Beaumont, A. McMaster, H. Coleman, J Faulds, G. Gerhardt, Sue Akerman, Sorajani Naidoo. Welcome Sorajani!
Apologies: R.Dace, C. Lemmer, J. Hearn, K. Tedder, K. Arbeter, H. Viles L. Malherbe and C.Zelenka.
What a wonderful venue this was! Thanks to Leonie for suggesting it. We sat on the verandah in glorious filtered sunshine, overlooking a homely garden that sprawled beneath great trees and rambling roses. Delicious aromas of coffee and home-cooked food within a light breeze. All calm and joy. Then, as we decided that we had better Get-Down-To-Things, a pee-hen emerged, meandering silently into our vision with some grayish chicks, a brown and fairly ordinary preamble for the dramatic (and noisy) entry of her mate! He completely stole the show for a while (as some men invariably do) with his dramatic Tail to tell. He flashed, and so flashed our cameras. Sue Akerman said that many husbands did not try hard enough, and there was a general ripple of agreement.
"Fibreworks IX

Dal Botha in the Western Cape has agreed to host the first leg of the Fibreworks IX exhibition at the Fynarts Festival Hermanus 2016, together with wearable textile art that she is particularly interested in. A number of the Fibreworks artists have submitted wearables over the last couple of years and she is keen to maintain a wearable/3D dimension to the textile display at the Fynarts festival. Apparently the wearables that Fibreworks have submitted have been particularly popular with the public there. We are therefore urging all members who are famous for their wearables to submit any wearable artworks to Dal. They may be old and seen-about in KZN and Gauteng, but they will be seen with fresh eyes in the Western Cape. These works will be returned to you and will not travel to Port Elizabeth. Hope all is clear.

Remember, however, to submit new work for Fibreworks IX.

After the Fynarts Festival in Hermanus, the works will travel on to be exhibited in Port Elizabeth. Marilyn Pretorius has kindly organized a wonderful gallery called the GFI and the Opening will be on Tuesday the 30th of August at 6pm. The work will be showcased until 18 September. The entry costs will also go towards the costs on opening night as well as towards the return posting of works.

Please note that the entry fee for Fibreworks IX is R120, irrespective of the number of works submitted.

" Intercraft Fair 2016. Johannesburg and Major Minors

Unfortunately this exhibition has been cancelled. I believe that the show ran at a loss this year and this has made it unfeasible to host another of its kind.

Dana Biddle and Jenny Hearn, however, are trying to find a suitable venue for another Major Minor exhibition. They will keep us updated regarding developments.

Remember new works and old ones are welcome for Major Minors. As the display of Major Minors takes on an entirely new visual meaning depending on the way the pieces are exhibited, an old Major Minor can be transformed within a new visual context. In addition, as Major Minors are small square works, they are an excellent way of advertising what a number of us do within a small and relatively compact space.


Hello Artists,

Marsha MacDowell of Michigan State University is planning another US -South Africa quilt project, this time in tribute to Desmond and Leah Tutu. The Rev. Mpho Tutu and members of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation staff saw the Mandela quilt publication and are enthusiastic about doing a similar exhibition and publication in honour of Desmond and Leah.

A Commitment to Peace, Love and Social Justice: Quilt Tributes to Desmond and Leah Tutu.

This will be the title of the exhibition and the accompanying book, paying tribute to the indelible contributions that Leah and Desmond have made to addressing human rights in South Africa and around the world. One might also include their enduring love for each other.

Like the Mandela exhibition the exhibition will consist of up to eighty 30" (slightly less than a meter) square quilts made by invited artists from South Africa and artists in America affiliated with the US-based Women of Colour Quilt Network (WCQN).

The full-colour publication will contain an image of each quilt, some brief essays, and each artist's/story statement about how the artist represents the life and legacy of the Tutus.

The exhibition will open in 2016 in Cape Town in conjunction with the October birthdays of Desmond and Leah as well as the annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture at the University of the Western Cape, the University of Cape Town and, should the renovations be finished in time, the new Desmond and Leah Tutu Foundation headquarters in the historic Granary building. If it can be arranged, the exhibition will travel to at least three other venues in South Africa.

March 1, 2016 Entry deadline, including artist statement and short artist bio. NOTE: this date could possibly be a bit earlier. Contact Jenny below.
March 15, 2016 Notification of acceptance.
May 15, 2016 Selected quilts sent either to MSUM (American) or to DTLF (South Africa).
August 15,2016 Publication printing finished.
All US quilts to be shipped to South Africa.
October 1,2016 Quilt exhibition ready for installation at the Cape Town venue.

Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to take part.
Jenny Hearn (Co-ordinator) 011 483 1595 and 083 263 6790

Achievements of members:

Odette Tolksdorf and Sally Scott
odette Tolksdorf and Sally Scott

Mogalakwena Gallery, Cape Town;5 November - 18 December 2015

Written by Sally Scott and Odette Tolksdorf. For more info and photos see Sally's blog: Sally's Pinboard:
Odette Tolksdorf and Sally Scott have been friends for many years. They met in Durban during the 1980's when they were part of a dynamic group of innovative fibre artists who were active in Durban at the time. Intent on finding new ways of working with fabric, they adjusted traditional quilt making techniques for their own particular form of expression.
Those were exciting times, and as public interest grew with this emerging art form, Sally and Odette had many opportunities to take part in group exhibitions, held locally and internationally. Both artists worked from their home studios in Durban and became known not only as regular exhibitors, but as teachers of Fibre Art and Design.
In 2000 Sally moved to Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape, where she set up a private art studio and continued to teach drawing and offer creative sewing workshops, the best known of which is The Red Shoe Workshop. The geographical divide between her and her fibre art friends from Kwazulu Natal meant that she was forced to work alone and in so doing, forged a way of working that is now her trademark style.
Meanwhile in Durban, Odette continued to make art, teach design and contemporary quiltmaking and widened the scope of her activities to teaching overseas and becoming the South African representative/co-coordinator for the World Quilt and Textile Competition, held annually in the USA. Since 2000 she has also organized art, craft and culture tours of South Africa with well-known textile artists, American Nancy Crow and Canadian Valerie Hearder.
Sally and Odette both have a strong appreciation for textiles and for using colour and design to express themselves. It's an interesting coincidence that they are both from families of seven children, with a strong connection to the continent on which they live.
They are two of the founder members of Fibreworks, a group that promotes fibre art in South Africa.
With both artists appearing in Elbe Coetsee's recently published book "Craft Art in South Africa" it seemed fitting that they should join forces in Double Vision to exhibit some of their work from the past few years.
On the evening of Thursday 5th November 2015, the doors of Mogalakwena Gallery, 3 Church St., Cape Town, opened for the viewing of Double Vision, a fibre art exhibition featuring the work of Odette Tolksdorf and Sally Scott. The opening was part of the First Thursdays, Cape Town programme, and because we were blessed with warm, balmy weather, the crowds thronged the streets and we had a really interesting mix of people coming through. This included our Cape Town Fibreworks friends and it was wonderful to see them there!

Opening of Double Vision
Sally Scott, Gina Niederhumer and Odette Tolksdorf at the opening of 'Double Vision'

We were fortunate to have Gina Niederhumer to open our exhibition and she had her Masters Graduate Exhibition at Michaelis one week previously. Below are Gina's opening words:
When Odette phoned me about a month ago, to ask me if I would open her and Sally's exhibition I was at first shocked that she asked me, after all these artists were already famous and were part of that crowd that I looked up to and admired from afar while I still marvelled over log-cabin patterns...
I am immensely honoured that they asked me to open their exhibition.
Both artists have resumes as long as both my arms...prestigious awards to their names...their work is held in public and private collections - locally and internationally...and their art-works appear in many publications ...most recently in Elbie's new book Craft Art South Africa.
Sally Scott and Odette Tolksdorf are amongst a group of a few local textile artists who have put South African Fiber Arts on the world map.
There are certain parallels to their biography...both have lived elsewhere for much of their formative years...Odette in Australia, Sally in Zimbabwe...both are internationally exhibited artists and both are teachers of creative workshops for over thirty years... both work with needle and thread amongst other things... and they are friends.
While each one developed their own style and working in this exhibition they joined forces to give us a glimpse into their practice.
I will first speak about Odette, as her work is exhibited in the first room.
Odette, beside being a prolific textile artist, is also a Quilt Judge and the past 15 years has been the South African representative and co-coordinator of the World Quilt and Textile competition which is held annually in the USA.
She has also for the last 15 years, organized cultural art and craft tours to South Africa, together with textile artists Nancy Crow from American and Canadian Valerie Hearder.
Odette's fiber art is known for its vibrant colours, it's geometric shapes...intricate textures... and has a linear quality about it. Her work starts often with a traditional pattern which she then distorts and adapts to fit her design concepts.
Her surroundings frequently provide the prompts for her work. ...a trip to Morocco becomes Lost in Marrakech...which hint at the intricate networks of Medinas and Souks...which invite to get lost in while absorbing the colours and shapes of the to it is the work Endless Migrations which is based on rumination around friends leaving the country...and the coming and goings of people in general...all over the world... in one direction or another... like the flow of water...the circles representing the endlessness of this pursuit...given the present situation in Europe with thousands of refugees making their way through different countries in search for a safe place and a new start, this work could not be more current.
As a graphic graduate, Design is a strong element in Odette's art. This is quite evident in many of her works...such as the piece Isihlalo - the Chair, which is based on the woodcarving of a back-rest belonging to a Zulu-King.... Raw Wall based on traditional Yoruba house decorations...Re-mix Africa...a lighthearted play on words referring to the watershed exhibition Africa -re mix...where Odette mixes Kimono shapes with African wax prints with a variety of textures, such as Cuba cloth, and Bark cloth...linking different symbolism and agendas.
Odette's latest works, Breath I, II and III is unusual perhaps in its soft watercolor feel...but then on closer look it is again indicative of her way of responding and processing her surrounding by her own admission, she was seduced by the material when she found that wonderful organza and thought of a way to use it. An artist will always read any material or subject matter through his or her own lens of seeing the this case, turning layers and layers of translucent textiles into a meditative study on light and breath...offering a though provoking reflection on the repetitiveness of the sewing process.

Double Vision ...the title of this show....
refers to an eye condition, Wikipedia informed me... (I could not resist) whereby the eyes when looking at a single object, see it twice, the effect is like squinting.
I like this title for the Sally and Odette's exhibition, as it not only points in a humorous way to two artists having different views, but it also reminds us that there is always another way of looking at things. That there is the actual artwork the viewer sees when entering the gallery, and then there is the story behind each work...the story that triggered the work in the artist as well as the 'threads' that are spun in the viewers imagination while looking at the work. Nobel price Laureate Eric Kandel, speaks of the beholders share which completes the process between artist and viewer.
Which really tells us that something is happening to us while we are viewing an artwork...and the thoughts triggered have less to do with the actual work then with our own inter psychic realities ...such is the power of art.
Thus in a way, art lets us look into both directions...the outer world and the world within us. I find this especially the case in Sally's piece Surrender. While the trigger for the work might have come from Sally's experiences, it has universal appeal, as we all can identify with the need to let go of things, thoughts, ideas that might be not only be counter productive but actually harmful. This is especially true, when we have been hurt, and have allowed the woundedness within to create an armor that we hope shields us, but it actually separates us from the world, and ultimately from living live fully.
When I look at Surrender, I see the threshold that allowed the other works to surface. Art and healing go hand in hand. Nietzsche already said, that when the soul is in distress, art comes as an expert healer and sorceress, turning difficult thoughts and emotions into something that can be looked at, and talked about.
The titles often give further clues to the meaning behind the work...Axis Mundi....the tree of life....Towards Infinity...a continous search for the self...Synergy acknowledging the different elements that strive for wholeness...
The vivid colours in many of the pieces give the works a celebratory look...a triumphant transition of the souls search and healing process after the work Surrender. The repeated almond shape of the Vesica Piscis, which presents itself in much of Sally's work, speaks of her continued search for unity and balance. Vesica Piscis, the place where two equal circles overlap and create a third shape - a liminal space - is at the root of sacred geometry... I understand Sally's repeated use of this shape as a search for the essence of oneness...
Sally runs workshops for community projects and university students, teaching embroidery skills, drawing, journal writing and her hugely popular Red Shoes workshops, which are aimed at empowering people through helping them find their own creative voice.
Sally is not only a teacher and lecturer and a leading figure in the textile world, she is also a landscape painter and, wildlife activist.
Growing up in what sound like a magical time on a remote farm in Zimbabwe, the love for the bush is evident in her photographs and paintings. Here in this show, in the three framed work showing photographs of barren landscapes over which hang little travel-bags combine her love for remote places, traveling and needlework. It is again the search for oneness that I see in it.
While both artists focus on their respective tasks and work with the same medium, needle and thread, their artistic output, copious as it is, is quite distinct from each other. While Sally works with her own hand-dyed fabrics and thread threads onto black cloth and frequently includes text and found objects in her work, Odette's clear lines and textures as well as her choice of strong colours, on the other hand conjure up a light filled high spirited Lebensfreude.
While 'double' refers to the two streams of artistic output, 'vision' here speaks less of the actual mechanics of our eyes, but rather it refers to the farsighted ness in both artists as they impart their skill and knowledge through their teaching. Ensuring the spreading of a wellbeing through creative empowerment.
The departure point for this exhibition might have been one goal, one vision for the artists ....being friends it is also likely that they discussed ideas about it while they worked towards it...the resulting body of work though speaks of separate paths. Needlework techniques acquired over a life time of individual practice... meet here, as Sally and Odette share some of their work with us ...
thus giving the viewer their gift of double vision....which lets us ...while seeing transformations of their experiences - contemplate our own.
Thank you.
Gina Niederhumer
Cape Town, November 5, 2015
Thank you Sally and Odette, you make us proud, and Gina, you make us think.
We look forward to hearing about your Masters Dissertation.
Best Jeanette

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