21 August – 16 September

Lerato Mary-Ann Motau (b.1975) is a South African artist from Soweto. Over the years, Motau has participated in numerous exhibitions and hosted an abundance of workshops all around South Africa. She defines her art-making practice as Fibre Art. The materials that Lerato constitutes are predominantly fabrics; embroidery and stitching are significant parts of her work, each stitch being a symbolic journey.

In this solo exhibition, we will behold several colourful patterns showing mighty and strong women who have been in Lerato’s life standing by her side. The women portrayed in her tapestries alone illustrates a form of significance that one can express as poetry, rhythms, or songs; the visages indicate different facial expressions, clothing, hairstyles, and jewellery. We get a sense, a feeling we get to know her community by contemplating and admiring these artworks.


“The series of artworks explore a similar aesthetic with variants in colours, stitches, and textures. Materials include thread that I have been given a long time ago and recently. It has a collective history of the women who have donated these materials. This is the last edition that I will be making as an ode to women who have stood with me. They have supported me through difficult times, and I now feel a sense of independence as a result of their generosity of support. This body of work feels like it is at a stage of transition.

Certain features of the person referenced have been included to allude to the identity of the person and more so to capture their personality.

The scotch hessian used as the base of the artwork has been discontinued and I am no longer able to procure it, further echoing the need to come to closure with this series. The checker pattern reminds me of my own childhood as well as teaching my daughters as a parent. A key feature in the stitches is the bull knot which for me is a symbol of a stitch that stands on its own and also stands out. They are solid and grounded and represent women both as the individual and the collective.” – Lerato Motau


Lerato, 61 x 85cm, embroidery on scotch hessian

The other aspect to the show is the wrapped spheres that were born from the need of a more mediative practice during the stressful isolated weeks of the lockdown. Motau had always had a keen interest in astronomy in her work and these orb-like shapes could also be seen as planets or celestial forms.

“The concept of stars and planets were inspired by gifts brought from my children. My three-year-old daughter presented me with drawings with circles and I was assisting my nine-year-old with homework regarding the planets. The circular form has resonated with me. I am fascinated by the roundness and wholeness of this two-dimensional shape, and the globe or orb as a three-dimensional form. It reminds me of my own life circle and life cycle as I think of myself as a child, adult and later an elderly woman.”

Found material is used as the inner structure and then thread of various thickness, colour and texture are wrapped to illicit a dialogue of universal proportions, a collective of difference all whilst being of found and homely items a nod to the women’s traditional role and duty in the home.

Ten Thousand Women, a solo exhibition by Lerato Motau, opens at Art in the Yard Gallery, Heritage Square. 9 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek – 21 August until 16 September 2022. Visit artintheyard.co.za


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