Art on Paper’s exhibition opens today, 14th March and runs until 11th April 2015 at 44 Stanley Road, Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
This exhibition pays tribute to the extraordinary talent of Marguerite
Stephens, founder and owner of the Stephens Tapestry Studio in Diepsloot,
Johannesburg and the contribution that she has made to art in South Africa
through her tapestry collaborations with artists.
The very first tapestry that Marguerite Stephens – or Mags, as she is
affectionately known – wove, was based on an artwork by Cecil Skotnes. Her
mother, Coral Stephens, a well-known South African weaver in her own right, saw
the incised wood block work on display at an exhibition at the Egon Guenther
Gallery, Johannesburg in 1963 and told Skotnes that the image would make a
wonderful design for a tapestry. “Well, you weave it then,’’ he responded. “No
I won’t”, she replied, “but my daughter will!” And the rest, they say, is
history. Skotnes made the cartoon, nothing more than a blown-up photo of the
block, and Mags wove the tapestry on a high warped loom built by her mother
specifically for the task. Skotnes exchanged his wood block for Mags’ tapestry,
and her career was launched! The Skotnes wood block which started the whole
story still hangs in Mags’ house today.
Since then, Mags has become a legend in her own time through her tapestry
collaborations with many South African artists, such as Walter Battiss, Norman
Catherine, Robert Hodgins, William Kentridge, Judith Mason, Karel Nel, Sam
Nhlengethwa, and Penny Siopis.