INTERVIEWED BY Lilly Quin PORTRAIT Andrew Thomas Berry IMAGES Courtesy Of Billie Zangewa and blank projects
Billie Zangewa’s silk collages explore the nature of what connects and unites us through our shared human experience. We chatted to the FNB JoburgArtFair 2018 Featured Artist about her compelling work.
How did you develop your style?
I have always been curious about different forms of storytelling. I started hand-stitching very young and developed an interest in haute couture. At university I was introduced to different textures of paper, which reinforced the appeal of richly textured surfaces. When I moved back home after varsity and had no access to a studio, fabric seemed like the way to go, as it’s not as messy as paint and ink.
What do you hope to convey through your art?
My sincerity and desire for connection. The vulnerability that comes with creativity and putting oneself out there. I wish to convey that we are united in the human experience, especially in a time when so many people feel alone. I want to show my love for what I do and my respect for the medium, silk, which has graced me with its magnificence.
How much has the South African context influenced your work?
I was born in Malawi and had never lived in the city before moving to Joburg – I was fascinated by the buildings and the grit of the inner city. Its energy has been an influence; it inspires creativity. As for the historical context, I was born free in the early 1970s and grew up among people of different origins as equals. I think that’s why my themes are more universal than contextual to a particular geography and socio-politics.
What inspires you?
Life inspires me. My son. The mundane. Not really having full control of the creative process and how a piece will turn out is also a great feeling. Silk inspires me – it’s just so beautiful and has such a lovely story of creation all of its own.
See more of Billie’s work here.