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Through the Eye of a Needle

an exhibition by

Mapula Embroideries

September 2021

In keeping with a long-standing tradition of telling momentous histories through embroidery that was made famous through the Bayeux Tapestry, the Mapula Embroidery Project in the Winterveld in Gauteng has produced 2020 Through the Eye of a Needle. Through 12 hand-embroidered panels, 2020 Through the Eye of the Needle documents and commemorates both the challenges and tragedies of 2020 and other South African stories which almost went unnoticed in the midst of the pandemic. Telling a story from a South African perspective of how lives were changed irretrievably through the impact of COVID-19, this sequence of exquisite embroideries – each of which focuses on a different month of the year – was conceptualised, designed and made by members of the Mapula Embroidery Project.

While 2020 posed enormous terrible challenges to people in reaching audiences in the face of lockdowns and closures, the Mapula project’s long experience in articulating difficulties, hardships and life in general through their embroideries also meant that the year presented circumstances that called for representation. We hope and trust that, apart from constituting an important legacy and series of unique collector’s item, this commemorative tapestry will yield sales that will help towards ensuring the project’s sustainability and addressing the precarious livelihoods of its women.

2020 Through the Eye of the Needle will be exhibited for the first time at the gallery of the offices of the SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, University of Johannesburg.

Visit our Virtual Exhibition


Project Artists


Dorah Hlongwane

Emmanuel Maepa

Kelelo Maepa

Selinah Makwana

Elizabeth Malete

Maria Rengane


Joyce Baloyi

Savannah Chauke

Phindile Gumede

Christina Mabasa

Bongi Mabia

Elizabeth Mabia
Flora Mabulawa                
Fransinah Maiketso        
Julia Makoana
Selinah Makwana        
Innocent Maredi        
Gladys Maringa
Patricia Mashigo        
Elizabeth Mathebula           
Lydia Mathebule        
Zodwa Mazibuko        
Glory Mnisi            
Stella Mnisi    
Salome Mokone        
Agnes Monyane        
Selina Ngobeni        
Martha Phalatsi        
Bertha Rengane        
Maria Rengane                
Samantha Rengane        
Christine Seema        
Johannah Sibaya
Thandi Sondlo                
Emmah Thukwane        
Tebogo Utla

These works were made possible through generous support by the following donors:

Pretoria Boys High School
Pretoria High School for Girls
St Mary’s DSG Pretoria
Spoor and Fisher
Savage Jooste and Adams
Teresa Hogan
Sue Spargo Folk Art
Currin Family
Libby Meintjes
Di Gowans
Jackie Leach
Soroptimist International Mariager-Fjord

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