After attending the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) hearings and realising the magnitude of untold women’s stories, Durban-based activist and artist Andries Botha created the Voices of Women project. The project consists of over 3000 embroidered and beaded tapestries, reflecting the memories, stories, traumas, and dreams of women across the nation. Each artwork serves as a living archive to memorialise the lives of South African women and the often challenging experiences that they have endured. These beaded and appliquéd artworks are the result of a decade-long project across all nine provinces and reflect the stories, cultures and languages of broad spectrum of women. A blurb in the maker’s mother tongue accompanies each tapestry with an English translation.
From the TRC to the First Living Women’s Archive in KZN
When Botha attended the TRC hearings, he felt that a creative methodology should be available for women to process and share their experiences. The project thus serves as a living memorial, offering a voice to those who were often unheard or misunderstood.
Unfortunately, many women were unable to share their stories during the TRC hearings. More often than not, those who did would tell of what had happened to their male family members rather than recounting their own traumas. In consequence, gaps emerged with regards to records of the lived experiences of women under apartheid rule. Voices of Women aims to reclaim this space and offers a creative way for women to share their truth.
Explore the Artworks at Phansi
Visitors can enjoy artworks from this exhibition and much more at the Phansi Museum. If you decide to pop in, you can also explore the impressive collection of African artworks, artefacts, clothing, and beadwork that the museum has on offer. Phansi is a must-see for anyone interested in African history and art. Guests can also pre-book a tour with one of the museums vibrant tour guides and marvel at the incredible collection whilst they regale you with stories of initiation ceremonies, spiritual healers, fertility rituals, and more.
Have you been to the Phansi museum? If so, what did you think?