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Looking back at a post from the Commemorative Scroll Project taken from a former post dated 4th December 2020, we are excited to announce the online exhibition of these panels in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg. The Scrolls are on their way to Houston, Texas where they will be part of the largest quilt exhibition in the world.


The Mapula Embroidery artists will document 2020’s significant events in 12 one metre by one metre panels which will together make an epic piece 12 metres wide. This piece will be sold either as one large artwork or in separate panels. Janetje van der Merwe was interviewed by Richard Cock for his radio show ‘People of Note’ on the Mapula 2020 scroll. This will be broadcasted on Sunday 13 December, 18:00 to 21:00. You can listen in by going to

If you want to be part of this amazing project keep on reading!


2020 will be remembered as the year that the COVID-19 virus wreaked havoc in our world. The women of Mapula Embroideries were dramatically impacted by the arrival of the virus and the imposed lockdowns. Almost overnight sales of their work dried up and critical income disappeared. This new reality demanded innovative thinking and the creation of new projects which could provide work and income. This scroll project is one such project.


Each of the 12 panels in the scroll will depict events and experiences – both serious and more light-hearted – which were significant to us as South Africans during 2020.

Revered and prominent South Africans died during 2020. Amongst these were George Bizos, Denis Goldberg, Achmat Dangor, Andrew Mlangeni, Zindzi Mandela, Priscilla Jana, John Nkadimeng, Joseph Shabalala, Kimi Makwetu. The cloths provide an opportunity to celebrate these lives.

Our people faced gender-based violence, police brutality, escalating crime levels, farm murders, killing of law enforcers, run-away corruption, a decimated economy, severe illness and death from a new biological enemy. However, the Mapula women faced all of these challenges with fortitude.

We said a big thank you to our medical professionals and heroes on the frontline and many behaved responsibly in fighting this unseen enemy. The Mapula Embroideries women immediately took up the President’s Jerusalema challenge and produced a short video for Heritage Day!

Individuals and groups organized and responded to desperate needs around them. Digital platforms became the dominant mode of communication and this both enabled us and shone the torch on the injustices of the digital divide. It is a year that has demanded courage, grace, generosity, positivity and fierce hope in the future.

The panels of the scroll will depict all of this.


We aim to exhibit the completed work in a prominent public space giving as many people as possible the opportunity to view this extraordinary piece after which we would like an embassy, corporation, government department, institution or private collector to buy either the whole work or the separate panels. This income will contribute towards the sustainability of Mapula Embroideries.


To create this work the women need supporters who will sponsor the materials and hours involved in creating the piece. We are asking for a R5 000 sponsorship of each separate panel. Smaller contributions towards each panel are also most welcome. Each panel will create work and income for three artists – a designer and two embroiderers – and take about six weeks to complete.


Sponsors’ names will be embroidered alongside the artists’ names on each panel and be forever part of this significant commemorative piece. All communications about this artwork will include acknowledgement of those who have enabled its creation. Most importantly, all those who contribute to this project will know that they have kept vulnerable, rural women artists working and earning during these unprecedented times.

We are proud to anounce the actual exhibition of the completed scroll on 1 September 2021. Please see the details below for this exciting event...

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19. Aug. 2021

The artists of the Mapula Project have created a legacy work to be enjoyed and valued way into the future. What was envisaged as a 12 panel work grew into 17 panels as stylised, indigenous trees were symbolically introduced at intervals over the year being depicted. We are so excited that it will be revealed at the opening of the online exhibition, hosted by Prof Shmahmann, on the 1st of September. The lucky ones to see the actual panels first will be those visiting the Houston International Quilt Festival in October!

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