Making a tapestry come to life

2008-10-14 00:00

TO put together a fabric panel one metre by two metres in just one week using embroidery techniques, fabric painting, beading and appliqué is a tall order, but that is exactly what is happening in the Tatham Art Gallery’s main exhibition space this week. Four local artists — Beauty Sekete, Tholakele Ngongo, Bonginkosi Ngcobo and Siyabonga Sikosana — will be working with Kobie Venter, Thulani Makhaye and Phumlani Ntshangase from the Tatham’s education department.

The project is, in part, reacting to the current exhibition in the main gallery. This is Celebrating Change: Tapestries Telling Stories. But the Tatham’s team will be creating something very different. “Although the idea comes from the exhibition, it is really Beauty’s story.” says Makhaye. Sekete, who in 2002 won the Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year Award in the Arts and Culture category for her work teaching women in poor communities how to sew and then how to market their crafts, has been empowering crafters since 1978 through her Sakhisizwe organisation. The story of how she has done this is to be the basis of the tapestry being created.

“The problem is what to use and what to leave out,” say the facilitators. Those involved have been to Macs to get input from Jutta Faulds, and to the Natal Museum to see the Mughal Tent panel, created by a group of women from Pietermaritzburg’s Indian community as part of a project run by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1997. But, says Sekete firmly, the main thing is to have fun and make art, not a piece of propaganda.

Anyone interested in seeing the fun is welcome to visit them in the gallery this week, from Tuesday to Friday.

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