Lerato Motau


Lerato Motau lives on Vilakazi Street, Orlando West in Soweto.she has obtained a Fine Arts and Teaching – Diploma from the Johannesburg Art Foundation in 1998. In 2004 she received an – NQ4 Certificate in Craft Enterprise from the Craft Council. In 2005, she qualified with an NQF4 Certificate in Basic Embroidery and also attended a handmade feltmaking workshop in the same year.

Motau has had one solo exhibition in 2010 and will have her second solo in October of 2012. Her work has featured in a number of group exhibitions. Internationally, she was represented in exhibitions that showed in Beijing, China and Finland.
Motau was the resident artist at the Greatmore Studios in Cape Town from September to November 2007. Her work is features in a number of corporate collections including; Nando’s UK, Absa, Pikit-Up, SA Breweries and Equity Africa in Jhb as well as DBSA Deotswana in Botswana.
Public Commissions include a BRT Station in Maraisburg, Johannesburg completed in 2011 and a public artwork situated on the corner of Vilakzi and Makgete Streets in Orlando West, completed in 2010 for the Vilakazi Street Development Project.

Motau is actively involved in two collectives. They are: Tourism Entrepreneur Partnership, Hidden Treasures based in Johannesburg and the So we too, which are a collective of seven Soweto based companies.

The concept is inspired by gifts brought from my children. My three year old daughter presented me with drawings with circles and I was assisting my nine year old with homework regarding the planets. The circular form has resonated with me. I am fascinated by the roundness and wholeness of this two dimensional shape, and the globe or orb as a three-dimensional form. It reminds me of my own life circle and life cycle as I think of myself as a child, adult and in future an elderly woman. This has resulted in a series of works that explore the circle as a shape and form in a universal, planetary context.

Embroidery and particularly the act of stitching is important in my work, where each stitch is a symbolic journey. In some areas the form is created almost entirely from the stitches. I have also begun to introduce circular found objects (like metal earings) and found patterns in fabric, into the artworks. The decision to collect and include them is informed by their aesthetic qualities. The details on the found fabric further dictate the added intervention. For example, a fabric containing stars, prompted the stitching of more abstract star shapes.

The simplicity of the designs are intentional. Forms like planets and stars are reduced to their most basic shape, which for me is a reminder of how these appeared to me as a child, and how my own children now see these concepts. The complexity of these ideas are not accessible to them, and I enjoy this innocence.
While some of the works are monotone, using different shades of one colour, others are quite florescent. I love the brightness of these luminous tones, where I refer to them as “mashangane colours”. Associations of bright colours as well as embroidery are related to Shangaan people, which is inherent in my own ancestory.

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