PMB art world mourns loss of artist

2011-12-05 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg art world is mourning the loss of master craftswoman Eunice Cele, who died on November 24 and was buried on Saturday.

Born in Inchanga on October 15, 1946, Cele’s work was valued both at home and abroad. She was taught beadwork by her mother when she was about 12 years old and as a teenager she would make small items that she sold on the side of the road in Drummond.

Recalling her memories of Cele, Bryony Clark, the assistant director of the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg, said, “I first met her in the late 1980s through the African Art Centre, when she assisted the gallery by repairing a collection of old Zulu beadwork.

“Her association with the gallery became closer over the years as she supplied the shop and the annual Echo Craft Bazaar with stock, assisted with workshops and participated in the gallery’s outreach development programme as a tutor.”

Clark added, “Eunice was highly acclaimed as an expert beader.

“Her beadwork is represented in the Tatham Art Gallery’s permanent collection, and in 1999 she was one of a select few crafters who were sponsored by the National Arts Council to go to demonstrate her skill at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.”

Among the many beautiful jewellery items she made was an exclusive range of necklaces designed by Durban artist Andrew Verster.

“Eunice and I spent many happy hours together as we worked out the challenges of turning Andrew’s paper patterns into three-dimensional jewellery,” Clark said.

“She was much loved by staff at the gallery and her cheerful demeanor and generous smile will be sorely missed.”

Cele never married, but she had nine children, three sons and six daughters. She is survived by five of her children and 16 grandchildren, and having taught her daughters how to work with beads, her legacy will live on. — Arts Editor.

• arts@witness.co.za

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