The Book Of Nature
This work is made up of 15 needlepoint tapestries so far, they are a reference to kneelers found in churches and places of worship. These were familiar objects to me as a child, I saw them in the small local chapels in England and in Wales where my grandparents lived and in the chapel of my school in Johannesburg. Kneelers are most often found hanging on the backs of pews, one for each member of the congregation. For generations they have traditionally been stitched by the women of the congregation, using symbols from Christian iconography. In this work I have replaced the Christian iconography with patterns derived from nature, plants, rock formations, clouds, and micro and macroscopic patterns. The title of the work is The Book of Nature, each of these tapestries is a verse from the First Book of Nature. They represent a call to pray for Nature and all she represents.
Needle point is a very slow and meditative activity. It calms the mind and brings focus and attention to something small. It is precise and neat, methodical and contemplative. The process teaches us lessons that we can take into other parts of life. The colours are bright, contrasting and intense and inspire and stimulate new and fresh ideas.
The needlepoint tapestries are stitched by Nopinki Nguwata, Pinki worked for my mother as a domestic worker for a number of years and was truly loyal and kind to her and even saved her life on one particular occasion. My mother died in 2017 and I felt I would like to do something more to thank Pinki. I wanted to find some sort of fulfilling employment for her. I have always dreamed of doing tapestry, both needlepoint and woven tapestries so I asked her if she would like to try working as an assistant, doing needlepoints of my work. She started working in May 2019 and now does beautiful needlepoint tapestry, she also works smoothing the waxes for my sculptures, we also have other projects lined up to do, beading, weaving and more. She is extremely positive and has a loving energy and her commitment to detail and her determination to develop her skills are an inspiration.
Pinki grew up in DeDoorns in the Western Cape, and then moved to Whittlesea near Queenstown in the Eastern Cape where she lived with her grandmother.
Pink “I first learnt how to sew between the ages of about 8 and 9 years at school, I stayed after school for needlework class so I did not have to go home, so I could escape the domestic abuse I suffered to at home. This work I am doing now has taught me more about art and has brought out my creativity, it has also reminded me how caring a person I am. It makes me very proud and at the same time I am in disbelief that it is my work. It has brought so much confidence to me, because it is also therapeutic, and I thank you for that. “
I feel the meditative nature of the work has brought a much longed for calmness into Penki’s life and a degree of peace which I hope will continue. Perhaps from her a certain calmness can somehow seep out further into her community, like a ripple on a pond.