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Billie Zangewa. Drawing with Fabric

Author: Luisa Bernal

Section: LAB

Date: 06.2012

 

Billie Zangewa (1973, Blantyre, Malawi) is an artist with an unusual career: from a very early age she has been an enthusiast of the fashion world’s inner aspects and everything related to its expression. This interest has lead her to work in various different departments related to the textile industry.

As an artist, she began experimenting with fabrics, particularly silk, after studying graphic design and silk screen printing. Her compositions, like notes for a story in fabric with irregular cuts that seem to require the spectators glance to be completed, the colour, the sense for detail in contrast to plain backgrounds… every aspect of her work shows that Billie has a lot to tell, but looking closer at her biography, I ask myself how someone with such a clear vocation for the fashion world doesn’t end up becoming a designer
I knew I wanted to be an artist. I loved fashion but art moved me in a way that nothing else had been able to before.
Billie Zangewa l DRESSLAB
How did you begin using fabrics to develop your artistic expression?
I began with embroidery, then I focused more on the texture of the surface and I evolved towards patchwork and collage.
Billie Zangewa l DRESSLAB
Zangewa believes she brings a very personal perspective when it comes to devising her work and that the aspect of craftsmanship can be appreciated in each and every one of her pieces. However there is a project that, in her eyes, gave her unforgettable satisfaction:
My first exhibition of textile works, called Hot in the City, will always be linked to an unrepeatable sensation of being the first time I experienced that feeling.
Billie Zangewa l DRESSLAB
Zangewa has benefited from artistic residencies in Europe and lived in London, as well as in Botswana and Johannesburg, making her an interesting person to ask about the differences between the artistic scene in Europe and in Africa:
The socio-political situation of each continent and what nourishes the creativity of its residents is very different, but the language of art is universal.
Billie Zangewa l DRESSLAB
As proof of the universal nature of art (and also that her passion for fashion design still remains very present in her artistic career), her greatest professional dream would be
to collaborate with an innovative designer like Issey Miyake. His innovations are always a source of inspiration.

Before she bids us farewell, Zangewa leaves us with a recommendation to keep exploring the art of an artist with a life career that is as interesting as her work: Yayoi Kusama.

 

+ info. Billie Zangewa

 

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