Tapestries mark double birthday

2013-05-30 00:00

“WE’RE not just about jam, jellies and Jerusalem.”

So said the Federation of Women’s Institutes (FWI) president, Bernardine Hay, as she proudly showed off the striking tapestries on display at the Crafts Hall at the Royal Show.

The tapestries were made by the FWI in 1966, when the minister of the province at the time commissioned them to be hung in the chambers of Natalia.

In a year of significant anniversaries in the city, the FWI thought that it would be fitting to display the tapestries at this year’s Royal Show, to celebrate Pietermaritzburg’s 175th anniversary in conjunction with the 85th anniversary of FWI.

Hay said: “Whenever I see the tapestries, I am amazed at their detail and their beauty.

“These tapestries are an incredible panorama of the history of KZN, inclusive of all people living here. [They show] a heritage of prominent events, buildings, people, transport, flora and fauna.

“Three hundred hours of work went into each tapestry and it took seven years to complete.”

Six of the tapestries are missing, but the remaining 12 can be viewed in the Crafts Hall. The tapestries are normally displayed in the Natalia building.

The FWI is involved in a number of outreach programmes and has long been associated with the Crafts Hall and the Royal Show.

The Crafts Hall was started 105 years ago and was funded by a group of farmers’ wives.

The president of the crafts and home industry section of the Royal Show, Henrietta Whelan, is pleased with the history and accomplishments of the Crafts Hall.

“Our hall is the only hall in South Africa with such a wide variety of exhibits. We really give individuals a chance to stand out.

“We try to incorporate as many hobbies as we can and a variety of displays, from photography and food to knitting and art.”

The Crafts Hall won a gold medal for display and a trophy for special endeavour from the Royal Show.

• annzra.naidoo@witness.co.za

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