Woven in the Stephens Tapestry Studio
Marguerite Stephens, renowned South African weaver relates that she often gets requests from artists to translate an existing painting of theirs into a woven tapestry, but the best for weaving, she maintains, are those that artists conceptualise as designs, not as fine art. This is in fact the case with the present lot, for which Cecily Sash made a design in the early 1970s. The tapestry could not be woven at the time, but the now elderly Sash signed it once it was completed. Sash and Stephens collaborated on many projects in the past, most notably in the late-1960s, creating such memorable tapestries as Six Vertical Plant Forms, and Pomegranates. Sash’s interest in plant motifs is clearly evident in this tapestry, and so is her strong sense of composition. In fact, Sash is still known today for the ground breaking changes she introduced to the teaching of fine art students at Wits University. She emphasized the essential need for a concerted element of structure, executed in a coherent design, for each of their paintings. Her own work often exhibits a linear sense of design, as is evident in this tapestry with its many cross sections of fruit and seed pods and graphic rendering of the giant flower on the left. Also of note is the bird in the bottom right hand corner of the tapestry. Sash had a lifelong interest in birds, especially after a bird flew into her classroom one day and knocked itself dizzy when it crashed head on with a closed window while trying to escape. She often depicts birds as having scissor beaks and bearing a target on their backs.