“Women’s Work: Crafting Stories, Subverting Narratives” is an exhibition currently showing at the South African National Gallery. This exhibition, at which some of my newspaper tapestries are on loan from Spier, examines the nature of art and craft and the bluring of the boundaries between the two.
What has specifically drawn my attention to this show is how the labour intensive nature of the works, and the importance placed on materials, generally invokes the questions “how it is made?” and “what is it made of?” long before the question “what is being represented?” is asked.
How or why artists choose the mediums they do is often not straight forward. For some it might be the weight of tradition, for others the challenge of a demanding or unforgiving medium. Often it is, however, to convey a concept illustrated directly by the medium itself, beyond the need for imagery. The “how” or “what” becomes meaning in itself.
For many artists there is also a love affair or connection that resonates with something deeper that, through hours of repetitive labour, connects us to ourselves, to our communities and history.
This exhibition shows a wide range of materials and mediums manipulated in strange and wonderous ways and will hopefully inspire other artists to explore the art of making with patience and care, and quiet excitement..