/ / / Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld

Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld

Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld
Written by Brenda Schmahmann
One of the most important community art projects in South Africa is the Mapula Embroidery Project in the Winterveld.

Description

Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld
Written by Brenda Schmahmann

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One of the most important community art projects in South Africa is the Mapula Embroidery Project in the Winterveld.

In addition to generating an income for economically disadvantaged women, Mapula embroideries couple high levels of technical and visual artistry with topics that speak eloquently of public histories as well as women’s personal experiences. Dazzling in colour and inventive in design, the embroideries also engage compellingly with social and political issues that have shaped the lives of their makers.

In Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld, Brenda Schmahmann discusses the complex circumstances that resulted in the founding of Mapula in 1991, when the Winterveld was part of the supposedly independent former ‘homeland’ of Bophuthatswana. She examines the histories and backgrounds of project members, revealing how women’s experiences of disempowerment and under-privilege have been bound up with a politics of not only race but also gender. She explores the ways in which the Mapula Embroidery Project is managed and organised, identifying various challenges that confront those engaging with development work. Most importantly, she offers a detailed analysis of a range of embroideries, placing particular emphasis on the significance of women’s choice and treatment of subject matter and suggesting that topics chosen by project members frequently address histories of political and economic disempowerment as well as norms and customs that subject women to male authority. As her study indicates, Mapula embroideries are remarkable works of art that not only attest to the creativity of South African women but also provide us – their viewers – with invaluable insights about the anxieties and aspirations of females in a transforming society.

Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld
is the outcome of research that the author has undertaken over a six-year period. The most comprehensive study of Mapula that has been published to date, it is also the first book with an exclusive focus on a community embroidery project in South Africa. Containing an informative text that is organised into four chapters, Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld is a full-colour publication with over ninety high-quality illustrations that reveal the exquisiteness of Mapula embroideries and show the context in which they are made.

Mapula: Embroidery and Empowerment in the Winterveld is essential reading for all those interested in South African art and embroidery. The book will also be of particular interest to readers with an interest in gender and women’s studies, development initiatives and the history of people in areas of South Africa that were formerly designated as ‘homelands’.