The opening of the Keiskamma Art Project exhibition took place on Heritage Day, the 24
September 2022 at Constitutional Hill. Many people joined in on the day with numerous
international visitors participating in the free tours offered by the museum as well as performances
and exhibitions. The day celebrates the cultural wealth of South Africa and its people, where
everyone comes together and remembers the various cultures that make up the rainbow nation.
Tapestries were on display throughout the women and mens prison. Sitting with Eunice Nombulelo
Mangwane a mother and grandmother in-front of the magnificent tapestry, she shared her story of
her daughter and grandchildren who are HIV positive.

The tapestry was created by more than 130 people, both men and women in the area of Hamburg
Bodium and Ntilini, rural villages in the Eastern Cape in honour of those who have passe don from
HIV related illnesses. The Altar piece comprises of three separate panels that open like cupboard
doors. It incorporates various textile art techniques , including embroidery, beading, appliqué,
simple stump/ raised work and photography. The altar piece tells a story of faith and hope.
Measuring four meters by seven meters it made its debut in Canada at the 16th International AIDS
Conference in 2006. Each of the 10 panels tells a modern story of life today with images depicting
loneliness , hardship and confusion to a promise of of friendship , hope and restored pride. The
first opened panels reveal scenes of the never – ending circle of life, village festivals , church
congregations and ever evolving spiral of animals and sea creatures.

Making the altar piece provided many local Xhosa people with work, in turn this helped with
alleviating poverty. It also eased the stress and anxiety of people striving to regain self esteem and
provide for their families.
Poignantly the sections of blanket stitched into the piece are taken from the blankets under which
members of the community had suffered and died, this process was away of dealing with the grief
and acknowledging and honouring those who had passed on. it brought about a new sense of
pride and dignity in the Hamburg community.

Most of the success of the Altarpiece has been made possible by the sale of Keiskamma
embroidered items and monetary donations over the years with Anglo American being a main
The day was a resounding success where everyone enjoyed and appreciated the immense
diversity of the country and its culture.

by Marion Kate