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ISIPHETHU GROUP (article first published : 2001-09-21)

Isiphethu (Fountain) is a project which was started in January 2000 for unemployed women of Madadeni in the Newcastle area. It was initiated by Judy Jordan, curator of the Carnegie Art Gallery in Newcastle, as part of the gallery’s outreach programme.

Leone Malherbe taught the initial workshop and a subsequent follow-up. They meet regularly at the art gallery for inspiration, material supplies and the development of ideas and the gallery assists with the marketing. The African Art Centre will host an exhibition by Isiphethu in October.

Funding for the workshops was received from the National Arts Council and the Natal Arts Trust. An application was made to the Department of Trade and Industry for assistance and subsequently the group were invited to participate in an International Trade Fair held at Caen, France in September 2000, where their work was well received.

The group consists of eight enthusiastic and productive embroidery artists. That they are able to enjoy a material reward for their efforts is a contributing factor to their success. The women have developed technical proficiency as well as imaginative and creative capabilities and their works display an individual creative engagement with the materials used.

Images are created from a combination of material appliqué and embroidery. Some include beadwork and buttons. All works are hand sewn, each piece is unique and the women are recognised by their individual styles. The design and subject matter is chosen by the artist and reflects, more often than not, an aspect of their personal lives.

The artists involved are Duduzile Malinga, Melzina Mazibuko, Margaret Mntambo, Jane Msibi, Cynthia Msibi, Dolly Nkabinde and Miemie Somana.

The exhibition will be opened at 17h30 on October 3 by fabric artist Rosalie Dace. The African Art Centre is situated on the first floor of Tourist Junction.




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