The Fabric of Society

Timed Online Auction, 18 May - 1 June 2022

Textile Auction
  • Keiskamma Art Project; The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando
  • Keiskamma Art Project; The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando
  • Keiskamma Art Project; The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando
  • Keiskamma Art Project; The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando
  • Keiskamma Art Project; The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando


Lot Estimate
ZAR 200 000 - 300 000

About this Item

Keiskamma Art Project
South African 21st Century
The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando
2006

each panel inscribed with the individual artist's name

mixed media

Notes

centre panel: embroidery, appliqué and beads on textile; 185 by 122cm

each side panel: acrylic on board; each 60 by 43cm

This artwork is an altarpiece made up of a central panel with eight side panels, framed as one work, overall size: 333 by 243 by 12,5cm

Founded in 2000, the Keiskamma Art Project in Hamburg, Eastern Cape, produces exquisite textile works, beadwork and wireworks which provide income and other forms of essential support for many families in the area through its cohesive network of women and youth. In particular, in the twenty years since its launch, the project has created a rich oeuvre of tapestries that allow viewers to enter into the conversations of a community of Xhosa women using art as a medium of expression and healing. Their works aid in the archiving of Eastern Cape rural collective memory and the preservation of oral history.

The first of their monumental works, the Keiskamma Tapestry, is a large-scale work that was inspired by the famous Bayeux tapestry. It records aspects of the history of South Africa, with a focus on the Eastern Cape, over its 120 metres of length. It now forms part of the Parliament Collection in Cape Town. Other significant works are the Keiskamma Guernica, a South African reinterpretation of Pablo Picasso’s 1937 Guernica, and the Keiskamma Altarpiece, which takes Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece (dating from between 1512 and 1516) as its starting point.

The embroideries are a form of storytelling, symbolic micro-histories through which we are given privileged insight into the life of a community at once fragile and resilient. Making art through decades of extreme poverty, and the ravages of HIV/AIDS and Covid-19, the Keiskamma artists weave narratives of hope, at once documenting and transcending the harsh conditions in which their intricate tapestries are created.

The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando Altarpiece tells a compelling story. Nolulama and Luthando were two of the earliest AIDS patients in the local community to receive antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. They met in the AIDS patients treatment centre and subsequently married. The work was made to celebrate young people going back to a normal life after regaining their health. Made by members of the Keiskamma Art Project in classes with visual artist Marialda Marais, the central panel depicts Nolulama and Luthando in appliqué, embroidery and beadwork on cloth, while the acrylic paintings in the side panels were inspired by the stories told by elderly people in the community who had lost their children.

The Keiskamma Art Project will be presenting a retrospective exhibition at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, in 2022, which will give the Keiskamma artists’ work the prominent place it deserves, not only in the public imagination, but in the art-historical canon. The work on the current auction, The Marriage of Nolulama and Luthando Altarpiece, will also form part of that exhibition.

Literature

Brenda Schmahmann (2017) The Keiskamma Art Project: Restoring Hope and Livelihoods, Cape Town: Print Matters Heritage, pages 118 to 122.



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