A long walk to freedom: A tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela

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Top By: McMaster, Annette
Quilted By: McMaster, Annette
Period: 2000-2025
Date: January - May 2014
Location Made: Pietermaritizburg, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
Project Name: Michigan State University Museum Collection
Contributor: Michigan State University Museum, Quilts and Human Rights, South Africa Quilt History Project (SAQHP)
ID Number: 15.0194
Layout Format: Nontraditional or art
Quilt Size: 30" x 29 1/2"
Purpose or Function: Art or personal expression, Commemorative
Description: Annette McMaster
A long walk to freedom: A tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela
Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa | Embroidery thread, cotton fabric; machine embroidery, piecing, quilting; 75 cm x75cm

When I started making this quilt I knew that I did not want to make an image of Nelson Mandela's face. I hoped instead to use the image of feet to evoke symbolic associations about his life and the sacrifices that he had made for all of us. His book Long Walk to Freedom inspired the initial machine embroidered feet. I used fabric that looked like the ocean and was reminiscent of the view towards Cape Town that Mandela had from his prison window on Robben lsland. I placed the feet at the top of the quilt because he was nearly hanged by the apartheid government; other viewers of the quilt might find religious associations with this placement. The fabric used for the prison pants was from a small piece that I bought years ago from a vendor from Maputo, Mozambique; Gra'a Machel, Mandela's third wife, was also from that country. The central blocks of the Log Cabin quilt pattern are photo transfers of newspaper articles of general life in South Africa; they show a contrast to his life of imprisonment and ours.
Other Notes: Annette has a wide range of interests in the arts :Beadwork: She was a mentor for 4 beadwork artists at the local Tatham Gallery for a period of four years. She has a good basic knowledge of Zulu beading techniques and is self taught. Machine embroidery: Annette has become known for her machine embroidery techniques, which she has taught widely locally and in Canada and England. Her work, has twice been juried in to the Pfaff International Machine Embroidery Competition, which was exhibited in Alexandra palace in England and then toured Europe. She has also done a few portrait commissions .Annette did a basic course of machine embroidery techniques with Jutta Faulds , but has taught herself to do the portraits and other work that she has become known for.Quilting: She has won numerous prizes in local and International Quilt competitions and has had work accepted and bought by private as well as public collectors and individuals. Since its inception until it was closed Annete's work was accepted and sold through the Innovative Threads Exhibitions that always took place at Nova Constantia in Cape Town, before Margie Garrat took the exhibition to countries like England Japan, France, and German. Painting: Annette has started exploring painting techniques and was invited, together with 11 other artists to create portraits for the "About Face" exhibition in 2011 at the local art museum. She belongs to a life drawing group "Mark" . Her home has been opened to fellow artists for this purpose for the last decade or so. Paper: Annette has created portraits as well as objects out of paper and papier mache, most of which has been sold. Her work was accepted in to "Jabulisa" a showcase for local artists in Kwazulu-Natal. Teaching: Annette has taught in Canada and England and locally . She has always had positive feed-back from her students. She is self taught in most aspects of her creative interests.
Related Items/Publications: "Conscience of the Human Spirit: The Life of Nelson Mandela," exhibit catalog, Marsha MacDowell and Carolyn Mazloomi, Michigan State University Museum, 2014, page 74.
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