Sun, 1st Sep 2019 9:30

Modern & Contemporary Art

Lot 15
Lot 15 - Billie Zangewa (Malawi 1973-)


Billie Zangewa (Malawi 1973-)
The Cotswolds

embroidered silk

Artwork date: 2009
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right

Sold for R227,600
Estimated at R150,000 - R250,000


embroidered silk

Artwork date: 2009
Signature details: signed and dated bottom right


43.5 x 50 cm


Billie Zangewa uses silk to create intricate tapestries that reflect light in different ways, based on the position of the viewer relative to the artwork. This results in artworks that appear to dance and perform as the gaze changes and the viewer moves around the image’s environment. Artworks that defy replication in print media or on a computer screen, these are sensory objects that must be viewed in person.Zangewa grew up in Gaborone, where there was limited availability of an artist’s usual infrastructure – no studios, no printing presses, none of the typical materials one would normally associate with the creation of fine art. From this came something remarkable. “To make art I had to use what was available” explains the artist, “[m]y creativity comes from lack – I had to work from scratch”.[i] Later, living in Johannesburg, she was moved by the reflection of the highveld sun on the glass of inner-city buildings, and how it would pixelate and change on her commute between Kensington and Rosebank. Conscious of her silk’s similar response to light, Zangewa started collecting swathes of the fabric from local shops, using the raw silk offcuts to create detailed hand-stitched collages – predominantly figurative compositions and cityscapes. Born in Malawi, growing up in Gaborone, now living and practicing in Johannesburg, Zangewa explores her intersectional identity in the contemporary context, “constantly challenging the historical stereotyping, objectification and exploitation of the black female body”.[ii] Her work is concerned with her lived experience, domestic preoccupations and the underlying universal themes that connect us to each other.The present lot was produced while Zangewa was living in England. In an email correspondence, the artist says she went to the Cotswolds on a trip for her birthday in the middle of winter. For her the area is the most beautiful part of England, and she was particularly drawn to the barren winter trees. The piece is a celebration of the beauty of the place.

Ruarc Peffers


[i] Interview with Andrea Nagel in Times Live “Billie Zangewa is proving critics who say feminine art doesn’t sell wrong” published 8 July 2018:, accessed 28 July 2019

[ii], accessed 28 July 2019

[iii] email correspondence with Alexia Walker, 2 August 2019.

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