South African textile artist Odette Tolksdorf has a personal preference for warm colors. Her preference and also her artwork reflect the surroundings she lives in: Durban South Africa. There’s a lot of earthy colors in her work, but Odette will use any color under the sun. So for her Marroccan inspired pieces, as well as ‘The Backbone is connected’ she used more colors: there we’re more colors needed to represent the topic well. When she starts with a sketch of what she’s going to make, she doesn’t start with colors though. ‘Value does all the work, while colors get all the credit!’, she starts with the tonal values, relative differences between light and dark in her pieces. This is what makes a piece work. It’s only after the tonal values have been decided, that she considers which materials and colors she’ll use to achieve the right effect. Her travels influence her work greatly, so she’ll select colors that she remembers from these travels. Like in the Lost in Marrakesh, where the colors in the piece directly reflect the colors she experienced in Marocco.
Odette uses a wide variety of materials, like cottons, corduroy, and linnen, but she uses silk a lot simply for how it shows the colors so intensely. Odette runs a website showing a collective of African textile artists, called Fibreworksart. Check it to see more Odette Tolksdorfs work and that of several others.
Below: Lost in Marrakesh is a representation of Marrakesh Marocco. It shows the colors she saw from the Majorelle Gardens, where she found wonderful Majorelle blues also worn by Tuareg, through the city with it’s green gardens, terracotta and colorful markets to the arid areas outside the city. The lines are a simplification of the Marrakesh streetplan.
Above: Using old flour bags as a base to work from, profile face was inspired by the Mona Lisa painting. The patterns you see represent barbed wires, an analogy to life in South Africa and the modern world. In a serendipitous moment she realized the strings she used for the barbed wire were AIDS ribbons, connecting the entire piece together.
Below: The Backbone is Connected. The inspiration for these two pieces comes from beaded corsets worn by Dinka warriors (see example at bottom). The corset expressed energy and vitality, which she beautifully captured in the work.