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I have various entries about inspiration, Africa,stitching and studio notes.
all the best,
Stephen Lewis: Race Against Time: Searching for Hope in AIDS-Ravaged Africa
Written by the man who mobilized millions to care about the African AIDS pandemic.
This hand embroidered square was made by the Intuthuko Sewing Group from Etwatwa Township near Johannesburg. There is wonderful solidarity between Grandmothers in Africa and Canada. To learn more about the remarkable Grandmothers Campaign to support African Grannies, check out the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Grandmothers to Grandmothers site. If you're interested in more of these charming embroidered squares, please get in touch with me and I'll send you photos. They range in price from $20 to $40.
This hand embroidered tapestry was commissioned from the Intuthuko Sewing Group. It will be the central panel framed between two smaller pieces by Intuthuko. It’s a joyful village scene with images of traditional life noted in the painted building and the women’s traditional Ndebele dress. The piece is about 20" x 25". Read all about this group here.
The Intuthuko Group is based out of Etwatwa Township outside of Johannesburg. A sprawling, desperately poor area, that has little to offer in the way of employment. This sewing group keeps 30 women stitching, which in turn keeps their families going.
Here is a video taken when I visited Intuthuko 4 years ago. The women are singing a song of greeting and thanks to me for coming to visit them, for bringing embroidery threads, and for buying their goods. I was very touched when they presented me with a hand embroidered tapestry of their group gathering to stitch.
You can find more of Intuthuko's smaller embroideries here on the African Threads web site. They'll bring a burst of sunshine into your life.
Yesterday this brown paper parcel arrived. It was trussed in strong, sisal string for the long journey from a deeply rural part of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. It was so beautifully tied up that I didn't want to cut the string! I only held off long enough to take some photos. Oh...the anticipation when I get a parcel of Zulu beaded jewelry, especially from a new group. And this is a group with a huge story. I'm very exctied to start a relationship with them.
Delightedly, I unpacked glittering beaded eggs woven on copper wire, exqusite copper wire and bead blowls and the most exciting bracelets I've seen from South Africa. But, you'll have to wait till I get them photographed and put p on my web site!
Grandmothers-to-Grandmothers advocate, Linda Wills brought along a visitor from BC to see me today. Ardith Chambers is from Comox Valley and was part of the quilting group who made the fabulous quilts that were auctioned off for the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmother Campaign. The quilts raised a staggering $200,000!
We looked at African textiles and dolls and mostly had a rich conversaton about women's lives in Africa and the wisdom of Grandmothers of the world.
How I love to share ideas about women of the world... and especially how enriched our lives are when we can reach out and support Granmdothers in Africa through our work. Please read my earlier blog post about Ardith's group and the quilts they made.
This glorious wall hanging is a story in cloth and threads. It's made by a Shangaan embroidery group in Limpopo Province, S.Africa.
Here is the story as told by the artist: Calvin is telling us a story of how the Shangaan people are living their lives. The man is building traditional houses with the help of the woman and also taking care of their cattle, goats and sheep. The woman, most the time when it rains, are busy plowing the mealies (corn) to help support their children when it's no longer raining. They produce enough food to last until it rains again. A woman is taking care of the orphans, by giving them the homes to lay their head and to give them food and help to educate them.
This embroidery arrived from Etwatwa Township in South Africa. The door of the privy stands open, proudly showing off a toilet. Nearby a woman is pumping water into her bucket. Just think of how that saves her labour and hours of time each day not having to walk to collect water.
The World Toilet Day website states that more children die every day from lack of water sanitation than any other disease.
November 19th is World Toilet Day. Makes you think, huh?
I've learned about Thembalethu through a remarkable young Nova Scotian, Catherine Robar. She is one of my heroes.
Catherine has worked in this South African community for about 2 years ago and started the Themba Project With consultations with the elders and community they figured out the priority needs: hunger and shelter. Catherine has devoted her life to raising funds in Nova Scotia to literally transform this community in 2 important ways: with gardens, school uniforms, fruit trees, parks, youth leadership group, feeding the hungry and housing the destitute. The other vital transformation is the re-kindling the spirit of empowerment in the community. Catherine has helped this community take control of their lives.
In January 2010 Catherine's project supplied 66 children with a complete school uniform. The families of these children are very poor and would have to forgo food for many days just to pay for these mandatory school outfits. See this story here
Catherine is one of the top contenders for the CBC's Champions of Change Award which is a Canada wide search for the top volunteers. The top two winners of this award will receive a $25,000 donation towards their charity. Just imagine what this will do in Thembalethu!
http://www.georgeherald.com/news.aspx?id=1746 Veggie growing is sweeter than honey
http://www.georgeherald.com/news.aspx?id=1603 Canadian Sows her Seeds
I spent a truly delightful July afternoon with a warm, wonderful group of women. I'd been invited by Ruth Rudderham to talk about African Threads to the United Church Women who were on retreat at the Berwick United Church Camp in Berwick, Nova Scotia
It's a beautiful camp. Quaint little cottages sprinkled in a most amazing ancient hemlock forest. I presented my talk and display of goods in the large open-sided audotorium with the sounds of children and birds and the breeze. Here's a picture of me holding up a traditional Ndebele beaded apron. I bought this apron in South Africa about 20 years ago.
Thank you sweet freinds for inviting me, and for the wonderful tea and cookies after the talk. What a treat to meet you all and I hope we meet again soon.
Meanwhile, I'm working flat out getting a new web site prepared for African Threads. Whew! Lot of work. Glad I have young and clever web guys figuring it out.
What a gorgeous summer we're having.
Tour dates 5th to 20th April 2011
Prepare to be deeply touched by the power of Africa on this magical journey for lovers of arts, culture, and nature. With the help of South African quilt artist and tour-operator, Odette Tolksdorf, I’ve designed a fabulous 15 day tour to reflect my passion for South Africa.
I’ll show you “my South
Africa”, the land where I was born and grew up. I’ll share an authentic taste
of the culture and the power of its nature. Renowned for its stunning beauty,
diverse tribal cultures, wildlife and rich decorative arts, South Africa is
endlessly photogenic and intriguing.
We’ll travel with sensitivity to local customs, and with curiosity about this evolving society. And, of course, fabulous food will sustain us each day that’s packed with fascinating activities. Accommodations range from mountain lodges, a traditional Zulu village and an unforgettable night in a wildlife preserve. There are limited places on the tour, so please book early so please contact me for the full details.
Here’s just a small sampling of the highlights:
* In Johannesburg we’ll visit Origins Museum to learn about the ancient roots of African civilization, then visit Soweto to see Nelson Mandela’s house.
• Overnight in the oldest wildlife reserve in Africa in KwaZulu Natal to view rhino, hippo, zebra and amazing bird spotting while soaking in the incomparable stillness oun-touched African bushveld.
* Fascinating architectural areas like the Malay Quarter in Cape Town, Zulu villages and painted houses of the Ndebele tribe.
* Overnight in historic Stellenbosch in the heart of the world famous Cape wine lands. .
* Meet traditional artisans in women’s craft collectives and learn about their lives and buy their gorgeous work at source.
* Relax in the majestic beauty of the Drakensberg Mountains and view ancient Bushman rock painting up close.
* Unique cultural shopping experiences include upscale craft galleries, Durban’s vibrant Indian Market, an AIDS Centre and rural roadside markets. Of course, we’ll make sure there’s opportunity to shop for fabric and spectacular crafts!!
The cost is $6,350 and you can save $100 per person when booking with a roommate.
Want more information? Email me to request the full, detailed itinerary that shows all the amazing things we’ll do, and registration details firstname.lastname@example.org
My quilting pal, Pippa Moore of B.C., wrote to tell me she is leaving for Uganda this week to work on her project with 12 rural women, teaching them sewing and quilting.
Read Pippa's blog – http://kitambaa.blogspot.com/ which will chronicle the project as it unfolds. The Ugandan women are shown here on the right. Pippa worked with a Canadian-funded HIV/AIDS program for 3 years in Lesotho, and the women and grandmothers she worked with touched her deeply. Pippa says "It feels very right to be going back and doing something, rather than just sitting on my experiences."
Pippa contributed to the The Merville Grannies of Comox Valley, British Columbia, fund-raising event for the Stephen Lewis Foundation last fall. Small quilts were made and auctioned. Pippa's quilt was purchased by the Stephen Lewis Foundation. A book was published photos of all the quilts. If not, it’s called Planting Seeds of Hope.
A new shipment of wall hangings arrived from KwaZulu Natal just before Christmas. This one is made by Sheila Msimbi and depicts a Grandmother with many grandchildren to look after: they're jumping, climbing and hiding from her. This small tapestry illustrates exactly why the Grandmother-to-Grandmothers Campaign was founded: to support these unsung heroes who care for the millions of HIV/AIDS orphans. While the bright colors and folk art design of this tapestry is joyful, the truth is that Grandmothers are truly overwhelmed by poverty, ill health and so many mouths to feed.
Granny's Overwhelmed 12" x 14.5" Hand embroidery, appliqué, cotton.($85)
Sheila supports 12 people with her stitchery.
In September of this year, UN member states passed a resolution to move
swiftly to create a new UN agency for women, a move, packaged with a
series of reforms on governance and funding, that they hope will result
in renewed public faith in the UN system. Julia Greenberg, AIDS-Free
World’s associate director, tells the inside story behind the sudden
groundswell in support for the new women’s agency and why the global
community of women living with, and affected by HIV/AIDS, should care.
This looks like a worthy forum to subscribe to.