Back in November I wrote about a wonderful exhibition called “Fancy Stitches” when it was here in Adelaide.
I was pleased to hear that the exhibition is going to be opening in Melbourne soon….you can see the details on the poster below.
If you get the chance, go along and look at this inspiring, heart warming and sometimes sad exhibition that captures the reality of living in a country that has been ravaged by HIV / AIDS…and the amazing strength, courage and creativity of the Women who tell their stories through the Fancy Stitches embroidery collective.
I went to an exhibition of the Fancy Stitch project yesterday, an Oxfam funded initiative “inspiring women in rural South Africa to learn new skills and generate an income with a needle and thread.”
The exhibition show cased textiles embroidered by women living with and affected by HIV and AIDs.You can view the project website here: Fancy Stitch Info
The following photographs are a sample of the beautiful work that the women are creating and some of their stories.
Their work featured many images of hospitals and depicts the huge impact of HIV /AIDs death and loss in their every day life.
There was a scene of “Bride by Force”, the tapestry capturing the distress of forced marriage.
I was very moved by the exhibition and the work of the Women whose lives are so much harder than for many of us living in the western world…yet the art, beauty and color and creative expression, solidarity and community far surpasses many of the ways of the Western world.
Impoverished economically and denied access to health, education and welfare, the work of these courageous Women demonstrated the richness of Spirit and tenacity that transcends many of the burdens cast upon them…
The words on her picture read:
The talented life of Buselaphi had been cut short by the AIDS pandemic that ravaged our area.
Buselaphi came from Ndumu, a place an hours drive by bus from Ingwavuma.She started the Ndumu group of embroidery artists just before her untimely death.
Her work depicts the rural lifestyle of fetching water, firewood and it’s a woman’s world keeping all things in place around the homestead.
Her death came unexpectedly and it is a sad loss to the Fancy Stitch group. Buselaphi had six children who had all died.
She is remembered by her friends as somebody who was not easily angered and always smiling and laughing.
Buselaphi was 27 years old when she died in May 2005.
I am 35 years old. I ended my education in standard 8. I fell in love with a man. It was very good for 13 years. In 1997 he lost his job. We started to feel misery and a shortage of food.
It was a big family.My sister and brother-in-law started to be a bad influence to my husband and whenever he got a temporary job he did not support me any more.He sometimes never came back home.Whenever I confronted him with a problem he told me to go back to my family.
His family decided to chase me away.I have five children. I did not want to go back home with my children so I built myself my own house.Fortunately I managed to build one room and we stayed with my children.
I got a temporary job at the hospital and things started to be better. It was a pity when I lost it.
Sewing and Fancy Stitch helps me a lot in times of loneliness. It brings a smile on my face. I am now helping to make the building clean and enjoy it because people treat me well and I am still sewing my beautiful quilts.
Even when people don’t want me I don’t worry because I get all the love I need from Fancy Stitch.
African culture, in its many shapes and forms and separate nations has a strong appeal to me…
I was very influenced by my Teacher Vernon Hoffman as a teenager..he was a wonderful, eccentric, loud, passionate South African man who embodied the metamorphosis of Black Africa and Western education.
I haven’t been to Africa yet…but I know Sal and I will trravel there and I am very much looking forward to the everyday art and creativity that is so much richer in dress, jewellery, art’chitecture and song than us left-brain trained Westerners.
Like these houses for example….
Now I could verrry easily live in a mudbrick hut with richly textured walls, painted wearing a gorgeous pallet of cloth like that adorns these ladies!
I worked on a youth employment project many years ago that entailed building a mudbrick house in six months with 10 long term unemployed people under 25…70% building time and 30% personal and team development (that was my job)….
That house is still standing almost 20 years later……it was eventually purchased by one of the participants and to this day I have a place in my heart for chunky mudbricks and wheelbarrows of muddy paste that can only truly be understood by those who have felt the earth shape into a dwelling….
Makes me want to go and paint a blank piece of wall somewhere….