Craft practised by Afrikaner women during and after the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 and the appropriation of similar craft in the work of selected contemporary South African artists
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This dissertation was researched in two main parts. The first enquiry was to establish whether the Afrikaner women practised any form of craft during their time of interment in the Anglo-Boer War concentration camps, during 1899-1902. The second part explores the appropriation of craft within the Post-Modern context by five South African artists. During this research into the craft practises of Afrikaner women in the concentration camps, I discovered that this particular issue has not been satisfactorily documented. The reasons for this are directly connected to the patriarchal system of the Calvinist Afrikaner. The impact which this system had on the craft practices of Afrikaner women and the lack of documentation thereof, are discussed. The paucity of information on Afrikaner women‟s history led to primary research where I gained the information I needed from the descendents of interned women. The findings of this research includes various forms of needlecraft such as embroidery, quilting, crocheting, and dress and bonnet making. Amongst the artefacts found were two ceramic dogs made in the camp. Various forms of tin and wire artefacts were also found. The contribution to the impoverished Afrikaner women by Hobhouse, the South African Agricultural Association and the South African Women‟s Federation is explained in relation to this dissertation. The freedom that Post-Modern thought created amongst artists enabled them to explore exciting ways of executing their art. The five South African artists whose work I chose to explore are Billy Zangewa, Sue Pam-Grant, Gina Waldman, Antionette Murdoch and Nirmi Ziegler. Their art practices are varied but the common denominator is the incorporation of various forms of traditional feminine craft into their work. They subvert the patriarchal order, draw attention to land issues, explore women‟s fragility and raise awareness concerning the abuse of the environment. I conducted an interview with Ziegler and relied on written documentation for the research concerning the other artists. I also made use of my own analysis and instinct as a woman and mother to interpret some works. As an Afrikaner woman I execute my work by using traditional feminine craft and specific motives found during my research. I deliver commentary on the lack of vi documentation of all of Afrikaner women‟s history. I use myself as an example of an Afrikaner woman and document my own history within the greater Afrikaner history which is contained and embedded within the history of South Africa. My research into and documentation of the craft practises of Afrikaner women during and directly after the Anglo-Boer War adds to the body of knowledge concerning the history of Afrikaner women. The same applies to the work of the five artists I explored. The diversity of material, concept and execution of their work will add some knowledge to the existing body of knowledge about their work, but more so to the documentation of women's history.