To date, there have been nine biennial, national Members’ exhibitions, showcased in some of the most prestigious art museums and galleries in South Africa. In addition to national shows, there have been five Major Minors exhibitions. These artworks, all 25 x 25 cm, sometimes accompanied by a colour catalogue, have travelled with high acclaim to venues in Europe, Australia and the U.S.A.
The upcoming exhibition – EDGE – displays recent work of Fibreworks members. There are three parts to the show: an open, non-themed section; a themed section where Fibreworks artists were challenged to create a new work in response to an existing South African artwork displayed in any South African Gallery or Museum, and finally, a Major Minors display of 25 x 25 cm works.
During the course of the exhibition, a textile installation will unfold where members of the public are invited to participate in a collaborative artwork.
The idea of a Fibreworks collective was conjured up in 1998 by a group of female friends. While some came from quilting backgrounds and others were trained in graphic design or fine art, they were united in the commitment to promote fibre and textile art as a serious art form.
Jeantte Gilks, Fibreworks Chairman and a founding member, says, ‘We were all interested in creating a group that was dedicated to promoting change within the existing art and craft platforms in South Africa, and we were keen to generate interaction, present new challenges and foster critical input from our members.’
So what actually constitutes ‘fibre’ art? Below are excerpts from ‘Fabulous Fibres!’, a document given to all new members:
‘Fibre art is an art form that encompasses a very large range of techniques, materials and approaches that give the fibre artist possibilities to explore and expand the art form in almost unlimited ways.
‘Fibre’ refers to materials that are made up of continuous filaments or elongated pieces similar to lengths of thread. These materials can be torn, dyed, burnt, frayed, glued, painted, embroidered, woven, ripped, cut, folded, crumpled, hammered, layered, looped or otherwise manipulated.
Fibreworks artworks are frequently composed of numerous different types of fiber in combination with other materials such as paint or found objects
Alternatively, fibre art can be artwork whose subject matter or content is fibre or textiles. Fibre art can conceptually address all matters fibre.’
The exhibition is accompanied by a public participation programme. Small squares of white fabric and various kinds of recycled objects e.g. aluminum pull-tabs, buttons, etc. will be available, and members of the public are invited to create a Square of their Thoughts. Any thoughts or images! These small material tiles will be displayed on the gallery floor as an expanding installation. Anyone can add their Thoughts to the growing body of the collaborative TEXT-TILE artwork.