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Artist Billie Zangewa features on Top Billing
Top Billing features artist Billie Zangewa
She’s the all African artist, born in Malawi, raised in Zimbabwe, then Botswana, and now settled in South Africa. Billie Zangewa is making the entire continent proud with her incredible creations, and we were lucky enough to meet up with her and her son.
Early in her career, this young artist was told that her silk works were too feminine, too decorative, and would not sell. She stuck to her dream, her needle and thread, and has gone on to exhibit and sell on the world stage and headline this year’s Joburg Art Fair.
Eventually choosing to settle in Joburg, Ms. Zangewa takes part in shows from Paris to London and New York, even though there was a time she was working 3 jobs to make a living, and even sang under the stage name Billie Star.
Having always loved fabric, Billie used to watch her mother’s sewing group as a child, and today turns silk in to incredible master pieces. Billie found that her creativity came from a lack of materials. Growing up, a friend had a trunk full of fabrics left by her grandmother. In it she found satin onto which she embroidered plants and animals.
Had she been able to afford metres of fabric, she may never have discovered this technique.
Her creative process is unique, and she starts with drawing a a figure from a photograph. The paper sketch is pinned onto silk – cut - placed on a background then sewn together.
Despite being displayed in numerous incredible spaces across the word, Billie feels particularly close to her showcase at the Studio Museum in Harlem where she felt a connection between African and American artists.
Billie’s daily, domestic and personal life as a woman is a major subject of her art and one which makes it so relatable and sought after. Being a mother to five-year old Mika became a natural extension of this subject and her work. While art is her strong suit, her son is proving quite a talent on the chess-board!
A good thing too. Billie has an up coming exhibition in Miami. Though her works already hang in America’s Smithsonian National Museum, she has bills to pay and a would-be chess grand master to raise.