Project highlights since 20202024-04-30T10:07:53+00:00

Project Highlights since 2020

Lessons from Lockdown: Mapula Keiskamma exchange, 2020 – current

Inspired by Carol’s insight into the need for empathy and connection during Covid-19, we partnered with the women from Mapula Embroideries in the Winterveld to exchange rural womens’ lived experiences as text, photos and film via Whatsapp. These digital exchanges from different geographies led to 8 beautiful pairs of tapestries, each an interpretation of another woman’s experience. Our first exchange between Rosina Maepa and Veronica Betani was turned into a film for an online exhibition, Lessons from Lockdown, for Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck University of London, under the directorship of Professor Annie E. Coombes.

Link to film: ‘I see you Vero, I see you Rosina: finding our common threads’ by Veronica Betani and Rosina Maepa:

The exchanges led to a tour a year later, of eight women from Mapula and their respective Keiskamma partners in Gqeberha, where we were hosted for workshops and an exhibition by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, before all travelling to Hamburg. 16 new panels have emerged through this complex and lasting engagement that has first and foremostly cemented solidarity and friendships. The panels await integration into a new major work that will be a visual archive of rural womens’ experiences, told through 16 unique life journeys and two embroidery projects’ very different creative approaches and collective memories.

Our Sacred Ocean Ulwandle lwethu olungcwele, 2021 – 2023

With sponsorship from One Ocean Hub’s Deep Fund, an international team supporting ocean research, we have been able to work with the narratives and memories of local artists and community members in the creation of a tapestry about the ocean as a sacred resource. It details the strengths of the spiritual connection between people and the ocean as a means of conservating both memories and the ocean itself – a holy place – a place of the ancestors.

The 3 m x 3 m circular work was exhibited at the National Arts Festival, Makhanda in 2022 and then in Cape Town at Zero Gallery/Eitz Project Space as part of a group show called “The Ocean is Sacred: You Can’t Mine Heaven” curated by Dylan McGarry. In Cape Town we met the incredible One Ocean Hub Team from Glasgow, Stuart Jeffrey and Lisa Mcdonald. Cebo Mvubu accompanied the tapestry to the Glasgow School of Art in 2023 where he could speak about KAP and a unique approach to preserving our oceans at the exhibition called: “Undercurrents: Art and Ocean in Africa and the Pacific”. The tapestry then travelled to London to the prestigious Design Week as part of the exhibition “Eureka” at Somerset House. This is a pivotal artwork for KAP and set a beautiful precedent for long term partnerships around the making of an iconic artwork.

Ubumbano/Unite – a collaboration with ArtCollab around the theme of gender-based violence, 2021 – current

After a year of isolation and no visitors to KAP in 2020, 2021 began with new energy and a model collaboration between KAP and ArtCollab led by Deborah Weber. Artcollab consisted of the artists from Johannesburg and Cape Town Elgin Rust, Deborah Weber, Luntu Vumazonke and Jolene Cartmill, who worked closely with Anelisa Nyongo, Nombulelo Paliso (Kwandi), Sanela Maxengana, Veronica Betani and Siyabonga Maswana from KAP. The group produced prints, costumes, video work and performance pieces around the theme that emerged of gender-based violence.

A complex issue was tackled creatively, adeptly and the original work developed further into printed photographs that have been embroidered. These were exhibited in Johannesburg at Melrose Arch Gallery and are currently on exhibition alongside the original video work at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Gqeberha. This exhibition in Gqeberha is the culmination of recent workshops we hosted with a group of local women – master beaders – with Luntu Vumazonke, Veronica Betani and Elgin Rust joining as facilitators. A profoundly moving week workshopping the theme of gender-based violence created a safe space for voices, a new documentary, and the invitation of new embroidered works by the participants, all currently together on view alongside works from the art museum’s permanent collection in both an exhibition, and call to action, called “Ubumbano/Unite”.

Kids Guernica workshops, 2022 – 2025

In September 2021, Dr Nicola Ashmore from Brighton University joined forces with artist and arts facilitator Savina Tarsitano to host a weeklong children’s artmaking workshop in Hamburg called the Kids Guernica workshop. Nicola’s research captures the content and impact of Picasso’s Guernica and versions of the Guernica around the world. A movement has developed around this original artwork of protest in its ability to inspire and inform peace. Children of KAP’S artists and embroiderers were led to develop their own enormous painted canvas, learning creative and expressive skills while safely and creatively hosted by Nicola’s team which included Carolyn Watt and Joe Hague.

The success of this workshop, not only for the children, but for the adults as well, has led to efforts to host another workshop in 2025, with the view to sustaining an art club for children in Hamburg that we host one day a week for children. There is no arts education in local schools. The introduction to the life skills and personal development inherent in creativity as well as exposure to the creative arts is thus high on our development agenda.

Watch the film ‘Guernica Remakings and Kids’ Guernica, Hamburg, South Africa 2022’ below:

Keiskamma Art Project Retrospective Exhibition, 2022 – 2023

24 September 2022 saw the opening of a large scale Retrospective Exhibition of the work of Keiskamma Art Project at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, called “Umaf’ evuka, nje ngenyanga / Dying and Rising as the Moon Does”. A long standing dream of artist Pippa Hetherington’s, inspired by the scale and depth of exhibitions around the world, notably in New York, fired a passionate drive to both raise the funds and curate an exhibition of KAP’S work at this level. Supported by artist and co-curator of the exhibition, Cathy Stanley, they achieved this epic undertaking, one through which valuable networks were established, resources created, and media exposure generated for this celebration of twenty years of artmaking by KAP. A beautiful book and catalogue is in production under the guidance of editor and professional arts writer and researcher Sandra Dodson who also played a key role in bringing the Retrospective Exhibition to life. It is further through the dynamism of the Retrospective team that we are celebrating the sale of the Covid Resilience Tapestry to Judith Nielson today. Proceeds from the sale will go toward the publishing of the book.

Link to the Retrospective Exhibition website: www.keiskammaartproject.org

Spier Arts Trust creative exchanges with 5 South African artists, 2022 – current

Under the directorship of Mirna Wessels, the Spier Arts Trust has sponsored and facilitated five creative exchanges between KAP and artists Tamlin Blake, Robyn Pretorius, Nkosinathi Quwe, Ayanda Kupa and Henk Serfontein. From these exchanges have emerged 5 beautifully distinct signature tapestries. In between, Mirna and Tamlin, assisted by Tammy Job, have visited Hamburg many times and hosted KAP artists generously on numerous occassions in Cape Town and surrounds for events and exhibitions, continuously supporting, exposing, and investing in networked artistic practice in the Eastern Cape. We are currently working on additional tapestries with Henk and Asanda and look forward to new exchanges.

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