Frances Hlanze

Colourfuel

I work with vibrant Kitenge fabrics from east Africa – striking for their brilliant colours and bold designs. I use a variety of techniques – patchwork, collage, decoupage, and straightforward sewing – to make lovely things to wear (like caps, bow-ties, earrings, beads and bangles), useful and decorative items for the home (lampshades, cushions, cafetiere covers, pegbags, bunting, picture frames and more) and an ever increasing assortment of other things, from greeting cards to decorative notebooks, from rucksacks to keyrings . . . . . and at Christmas I enjoy the opportunity to put a kitenge twist on traditional decorations! I also create mosaics with broken crockery, sea glass, shells, terracotta and other mosaic friendly surfaces to form lamp bases which compliment my kitenge work, plus, pictures, planters, and plaques. I have been ‘making’ with fabric for as long as I can remember. I still have the little Victorian chain stitch machine, passed down through generations, on which I first practised. During my hippy-ish late teens I loved to patchwork with velvet. As a working mum, I made a hobby of sewing many of my own clothes; then later surprised the in-laws with the bright primary colours and hotchpotching patterns of the outfits I created for my baby. As I gradually retired from the world of work I increasingly felt free to indulge my passion for colour, pattern, texture and design. My love affair with African colour and design had begun during the years I lived in southern Africa, where my daughter was born. Now she lives and works in east Africa, and is my main source of the glorious fabrics which speak to me of bright sun, limitless skies and complex, urgent rhythms. . . . and occasionally I get to visit, and add further to my stocks!