On Saturday we went to the artist walkabout of the ME3 exhibition showing at the Fried Contemporary gallery until 8 December. There are many interesting artworks there, and I always love hearing what the artists themselves have to say about their work – was I right? Was this work meant to be so beautifully macabre? Yes, yes it was.
The entire exhibition is worth going to see, but I want to highlight Amita Makan’s embroideries. She has a very strong concept: working through the grief of her mother’s long illness (Alzheimer’s disease) and subsequent death. Her ancestors were cobblers and embroiderers and she uses their techniques, working with shoes and her mother’s clothes, to come to terms with a fine woman’s unravelling.
For the ME3 exhibition, Ms Makan made a series of mandalas from pieces of her mother’s finest sari. She then links death and birth by using the prints of her own feet that was made during her naming ceremony (a Hindu tradition that she explained to us, which involves making vermillion prints of the baby’s feet accompanied by mantra recitations). She re-enacted the footprint-making ceremony as an adult.
My 6 day feet (detail)
Hand embroidered with silk thread on silk organza and vintage sari
1400mm x 60mm (unframed dimensions)
The result is a series of exquisite embroideries, ephemeral in their execution but grounded by the images of the feet.
Hand embroidered with silk thread on organza silk, net, vintage sari and sequins
1125mm x 845 mm
Amita Makan is famous for this piece that was shown at the New Signatures a couple of years ago – a portrait of her mother, photo-realistic embroidery, but exhibited in such a way that the threads at the back are still seen. Read more about her and her work at art.co.za