Artists laying out the sequence of the panels for the Keiskamma Tapestry. Picture: Supplied
Artists laying out the sequence of the panels for the Keiskamma Tapestry. Picture: Supplied

Embroidery art project weaves history into stories

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Sep 15, 2021

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Cape Town – As part of Constitution Hill’s 25th commemoration since the signing of the Constitution in December 1996, the living museum will be hosting a retrospective survey exhibition titled Death and Resurrection by the Keiskamma Art Project and their contribution to the world of art, advocacy and activism.

Through their art, the project explored the fabric of the Xhosa narrative, socio-political standings, plagues and pandemics as well the South African and African society by weaving these histories into stories over the past two decades.

Death and Resurrection curator Pippa Hetherington said there were five curatorial themes of the exhibition and these included art and illness, environment and the natural world, resurrection, occupation and resistance and, last, our daily bread. A constant theme of death and resurrection was found throughout.

Hetherington curated the exhibition together with Cathy Stanley and said they aimed to create visibility for the project through this exhibition and to enable people to become aware of the history, storytelling, heritage and the role these artists played in the mechanism of embroidery as storytelling.

A rendering of the exhibition space showcasing the Keiskamma Guernica, made in 2010, mixed media including appliqué, embroidery, felt, wire, blankets, metal and beads. Picture: Supplied

“For 20 years, we have seen first-hand the magic that is possible through community. The Keiskamma Art Project is a testament to this,” said Hetherington.

Keiskamma Art Project project manager Michaela Howse said: “We truly believe that this is an opportunity to challenge the perception of contemporary African art and showcase a collective on African soil and then for it to travel.

“Apart from the national and international impact of providing insight to social, health and art intersections, the visibility of the Keiskamma Art Project is vital for the knock-on effect of the sustainability of the art-making and the livelihoods of the artists.”

African Artist’s Foundation founder and director Azu Nwagbogu said: ”This retrospective exhibition foregrounds the traditional oral histories and acts as a loud-hailer through which to amplify the stories and experiences by and for the people who are otherwise not heard.”

Those interested in assisting the Keiskamma Art Project reach their goal are encouraged to donate though their BackaBuddy page or contact Hetherington through email [email protected]

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