Friday, January 22, 2021

The art of quilting hits our shores

Quilting is a fascinating art that is gaining popularity in Botswana.

Its popularity came alive at the ongoing joint Art Quilts Exhibition being run by be, Kalahari Quilts and Fiber Revolution, a local company, and a network of professional American artists who exhibit and market their work.

There were different types of end products made out of patches that are joined together by stitching them on a plain fabric used as a backing.

End products, such as wall hangings that were created by local women, occupied the exhibition area at Sanitas Gardens with prices ranging from P500 up to P16 000 attached to some of the artistic works.

Jenny Healy, a self-taught artist who owns the Kalahari Quilts, explains that she uses the art of quilting to express her knowledge about different subjects.

Healey stated that quilting is all about joining pieces of fabric and patches together to make a visible art work that usually carries a message.

Though she never learned quilts art in class, Healy is talks with confidence and pride because she has created employment for many women who were unemployed.

“Since I was born in Zambia and raised in Botswana, I am more into┬áquilts that have traditional background.┬áThere are pictures of animals, mowana trees, women doing their household chores and anything that is close to Batswana’s culture,” added Healy.

She explains that what makes them different from Fibre Revolution is that  most of their work is hand stitched  solely to create employment for women. 

She stated that this gives women an opportunity to make money for themselves while they are at their homes.

“Though they work for me full time they can work while at home in┬áa flexible environment after taking some lessons.”

Healey noted that quilting requires a lot of work because it can even take 100 hours of stitching whether someone hand stitches or uses a machine.

“This quilt drives me crazy. There is something fascinating about it. I can’t explain what actually makes me love it,” said Healy.

She stopped the conversation as she was now talking to her colleague about one of the expensive wall hangings with a price tag of P16 000. The quilt was one of the Fibre Revolution art works. 
One of the Fibre Revolution quilts that has some roots in Botswana is titled “Khale Hill Shadows”.
Fibre Revolution artist, Cindy Friedman, says she titled the piece “Khale Hill Shadows” after she┬áwas inspired by her daughter’s┬á visit┬á to┬á Botswana.

Friedman┬á emphasized that she created the piece from her daughter’s photograph while hiking around Khale Hill.

“My quilts always have people to give them a sense of life,” she added.┬á

As an industrial designer, she manipulated the photograph through Photoshop and printed it on silk. Friedman said that she likes working on silk because it reflects light and is always shining.
She stated that, as an industrial designer, she draw her own images that she can use on pieces of her quilts when she created them.

Friedman compared quilting to drawing. As an artist, she prefers to use machine to stitch because when she uses her hands they get hurt.  She stated that she continuously comes to  the country to share with other Batswana her knowledge and experience in quilting. 

She said that she was happy that many Batswana were showing some interest in the art of quilting.
She then talked about her colleague’s pieces that were on display. One of the wall hangings was titled “Acheological Fragments”.

She said that the piece is all about the artist’s imagination on what archaeologists will find when they dig in the land. She noted that┬áthe wall hanging┬á was created from┬áa combination of fabrics and golden leaf.┬á The piece looks like an Ancient scroll with some unreadable words on it. Only three words have been stitched and can be read when someone is close to the piece.

Currently, wall hangings are available at the ongoing exhibition which  ends today (Sunday) while other products, such as bed quilts, cell phone pouches, pot holders, bags and stuffed animals are sold at their store.

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