Botanical Tapestries

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The Botanical Artwork was created for the Kirstenbosch Biennale 2010.

In July 2010, Keiskamma Artists Ayanda Gcezengana, Nokuphiwa Gedze, Nombuyiselo Malumbezo, Ndileka Mapuma, Cebo Mvubu and Thobisa Nkani spent time visiting Kirstenbosch in preparation for the Kirstenbosch Botanical Art Biennale which opens on the 4th September 2010. This year the theme for the Kirstenbosch Biennale focuses on rare, endangered and narrow endemic species indigenous to southern Africa.

Kirstenbosch horticulturists took members from the Keiskamma Art Project around the Conservatory and Collections Nursery to show them our rare collections and threatened species in cultivation. Special guided tours were made to visit the Cycad collection, Strelitzias, Clivias, Useful Plants and rare Proteas in the garden. The Keiskamma Artists then selected plant material from which they practised drawing and they developed designs for their art work.

With the help of Cathy Stanley and Magda Greyling, they created a collection of botanical tapestries made of embroidery, hand-made felt and wirework:

– Cycad (2.450×1.655m)
– Aloes (2.800×1.670m)
– Dune walk: a series of four panels 4x (2×1.50m)




Entyatyambeni / In Flowers

One year later, the Art Project showed new botanical artworks at Oude Libertas Gallery in Stellenbosch. The exhibition “Entyatyambeni / In Flowers” displayed artworks which creatively describe the endangered environments of the Eastern Cape coastal area.

Ten Keiskamma artists developed new skills in representing the botanical beauty of the Eastern Cape in embroideries, and three-dimensional mixed media explorations of indigenous plants. They developed collaboration with over 60 embroiderers, beaders and felters.

Preparing this exhibition contributed to foster awareness in the community for endangered species and the unique eco-system in Hamburg and the importance of protecting and preserving our natural environment.

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From left to right – Cebo Mvubu, Mischeck Jakarazi, Lindiswa Gedze, Ndileka Mapuma, Nokuphiwa Gedze, Nombuyiselo Malumbezo, Msindisi Mva, Nomfusi Nkani, Nozeti Makhubalo, Thobisa Nkani

Nomfusi Nkani

“I chose the cycad because here in the Eastern Cape you find it very often. The yellow flowering around the green leaves is working well for me. It reminds me of my childhood because we used to collect the old cycad wood to make fire in order to cook and to sit around it when it was cold in winter. When I was growing up we were drinking the juice that comes out of the stem and eating the green thorns. The cycad is very common and easy to find. For me it has interesting leaves because I like to work with the patterns.”

Cebo Mvubu

“I have chosen these plants because I want to make people aware of endangered plants around them. I want people to take care about the environment and nature instead of just digging out plants and throwing them away without thinking about it as I experienced it in my village. Furthermore I intend to broaden peoples’ horizons as it comes to indigenous South-African and especially Eastern Cape plants because they are part of our heritage. I hope that my artwork inspires people to respect nature.”

Msindisi Mva

“The reason why I chose these plants is that I see them everywhere around me. I even experienced a lot of new interesting facts about some plants as I for instance saw some children drinking the liquid of plant that I didn’t know as eatable. A lot of plants are helpful for animal as chickens and cows and they can be used as medicine, even for human beings. So in general all these plants play an important role in peoples’ lives.”

Lindiswa Gedze

“All the plants I have chosen are indigenous Eastern Cape plants. I have chosen the Aloe as it is associated with the Xhosa-Clan and the Eastern Cape region of South Africa. It is used as medicine and perceived as a natural inhabitant for the Hamburg residence. I draw my inspiration from it because it has been around for many centuries.”

Nozeti Makhubalo

“I chose to do this plant because plants are also alive; they are part of our lives. The one I chose can be found next to the river. It is a very important plant that we use for our health, i.e. if you got a rush or blisters from burning we just grind it and when it becomes a paste you can put it on the wounds. Especially people who are HIV-positive can use it against mouth sores. We take good care of these plants. Thanks God for the creation.”

Thobisa Nkani

“I enjoyed painting landscapes with flowers and trees that grow especially in the Eastern Cape. I enjoyed to work as a designer for Oude Libertas because I was more concerned about plants that grow in the Eastern Cape. I loved to do research and I found it more interesting to see plants that grow out of our village. I’d love to know more about the Eastern Cape plants.”

The artists were assisted by:

Cathy Stanley: original concept, artistic advice and curator of the exhibition
Carol Hofmeyr: design supervision, overseeing of production
Annette Woudstra, Magda Greyling and Florence Danais: artistic advice
Nikki Westcott: botanical drawing workshop

Special thanks to our sponsors:

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