Beaders from left, Concilia Mukarobwa, Dzidzai Shemaiah Hwende, Siphiwe Dube, Similo Moyo and Thokozile Maseko. Image © Liz Whitter.
Making Marigold: Beaders of Bulawayo is a portrait of a women’s beading co-operative specialising in loomed beadwork, based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
Over 200 photographs reveal the sumptuous glamour of the Marigold beadwork and necklaces. Short, stand-alone narrative vignettes offer background insights into the making and development of the Marigold co-operative.
How did these women, whose skilled practice and creative impulses evident in every necklace, perfect this practice?
And what has sustained their efforts across the decades?
Joni Brenner is an artist who revisits the same subject – whether live model or skull – over and again, a practice that informs her understanding of learning through doing, looking closely and recognising shifts.
Her belief in the value of repetition underpins her fascination, and her collaboration, with the Marigold beading co-operative.
She is a Principal Tutor in History of Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Elizabeth Burroughs is a researcher and writer whose interests include the role of languages in culture and identity, the nature of consciousness, and the processes of making.
She has worked primarily in the field of education, lecturing in English Literature and Linguistics, and as senior manager for Umalusi, the quality council for schools and college education in South Africa.
She now works as a freelance consultant and writer.
Times LIVE recently published a piece on the remarkable women behind the Marigold co-op:
In 2011, Johannesburg artist Joni Brenner saw a strip of loomed beadwork made in Bulawayo, draped it around her neck and asked if it could be joined to make a necklace.
When she wore her commissioned necklaces to the 2011 FNB JoburgArtFair, many people admired them and requested their own.
The necklaces were made by the Marigold co-operative, which specialises in loomed beadwork. The co-op was established in 1992 with about 20 women, most of whom had belonged to groups known as “School Leavers’ Clubs” where crafts and entrepreneurship skills were taught to young people who were unable, for various reasons, to complete their schooling.
In Marigold’s first decade or so, clients and commissions were plentiful. But Marigold’s fortunes, mirroring Zimbabwe’s waning economy and complicated political history, declined as resources and clients gradually ceased to be steadily available. People drifted away from Marigold in search of other employment.
However, three women – Siphiwe Dube, Sifiso Mathe and Teresa Nkomo, founder members of Marigold – managed through sheer persistence to save their co-operative.
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