Lerato Motau

Date:31 October, 2017

  • Lerato Motau The Road is Long Mixed Media 98cm x 56cm
  • Lerato Motau Can i come Too Mixed Media 98cm x 56cm

Artist Statement

Embroidery and particularly the act of stitching are important in my work, where each stitch is a symbolic journey. The materials that I use comprise mostly of fabric, and while many categorise my work as textile works I prefer to define my artmaking practice as Fibre Art. A description of many artworks would include forms of fabric joined to the canvas by stitches, and in some areas the form is created almost entirely from the stitches. I have also begun to introduce circular found objects (like metal earrings) and found patterns in fabric, into the artworks. The decision to collect and include them is informed by their aesthetic qualities. The details on the found fabric further dictate the added intervention. For example, a fabric containing stars, prompted the stitching of more abstract star shapes.

The concept of stars and planets were inspired by gifts brought from my children. My three year old daughter presented me with drawings with circles and I was assisting my nine year old with homework regarding the planets. The circular form has resonated with me. I am fascinated by the roundness and wholeness of this two dimensional shape, and the globe or orb as a three dimensional form. It reminds me of my own life circle and life cycle as I think of myself as a child, adult and later an elderly woman. This has resulted in a series of works that explore the circle as a shape and form in a universal, planetary context.

The simplicity of the designs are intentional. Forms like planets and stars are reduced to their most basic shape, which for me is a reminder of how these appeared to me as a child, and how my own children now see these concepts. The complexity of these ideas are not accessible to them, and I enjoy this innocence.

I love the brightness of luminous tones, where I refer to them as “mashangane colours”. Associations of bright colours as well as embroidery are related to Shangaan people, which is inherent in my own ancestry.

Other works have been inspired by Vilakazi Street in Soweto where I live. Text was embroidered onto a 30m piece of purple and yellow ribbon, which reads like a narrative of Vilakazi Street, chaptering different points of interest along the street. Visitors were invited to embroider symbols thus including the illiterate.

A long term project has been the Friendship Skirts, which are personalized skirts made with the individual characteristics of many of my female friends in mind. These skirts have been shown on a documentary in Beijing, and later worn as part of a fashion show in Johannesburg. This project has grown, where I have now been receiving requests from people to make skirts for them and I recently received had a request from a male client for a friendship shirt.



  • Amphiko Red Bull Workshop


  • Culture and Heritage Exhibition (Heritage Month)
  • Nex Dor Paint Exhibition (Women’s Day)
  • Oliver Tambo Viewing Deck Legacy Workshop at the OR Tambo International Airport


  • 2012 – Tourism Indaba, As so we too, ICC, KZN
  • 2012 – Thupelo International Artists Workshop, Bag Factory, Jhb


  • 2011 – Art on the Sky, Vilakazi Street, Soweto
  • 2011 – Fashion meets Art, Jozi Lab Studio, Art on Main, Jhb


  • 2010 – Dislexia through an artist’s eye (solo exhibition), Artshow Case (formerly Godart), Jhb
  • 2010 – Opitaavel, Artspace Fairlands, Jhb


  • 2009 – Vilakazi Precinct Upgrade, Soweto – Public art design exhibition, Uncle Tom Hall


  • Women’s Day, Museum Africa, Newtown – ‘Phantom Limb’ Friendship Skirt
  • DK Gallery, Johannesburg – Untitled Exhibition
  • Development Bank of South Africa -DBSA
  • Disability Expo, Nasrec – Art Exhibition
  • Communal College of Kuopio, Finland – Kino Kuvakukko Kuopio (Friendship skirts)
  • Beijing, China – The One Minute Video  (Friendship skirts)


  • Jeannette Unites Studio Gallery, Cape Town – Bophelo Bame (In My Life) Black Like Us IV, Manor Gallery, Johannesburg – Township Scenes


  • Black Like Us IV, Manor Gallery, Johannesburg – Untitled
  • HIV/Aids Art Festival – Museum Africa, Newtown
  • Hector Peterson Youth Program , Uncle Tom’s Hall, Soweto
  • KZNSA Gallery – FNB Craft Now
  • Paper Prayer Skill Program – Artist Proof Studio, Newtown


  • Visual Freedom – Bus Factory, Newtown
  • Women’s Painting and Mixed Media – Botswana National Museum, Octagon Gallery
  • An Event For All Women – Sandton Convention Center – “For you and about you”


  • African artists – Big Time Gallery, Rosebank


  • Mystery Artists Fine Art – Manor Gallery
  • Auction Zoo Braganza – Pretoria Zoo


  • World Summit on Sustainable Development – ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg


  • 2007 September – November   Greatmore Studio, Cape Town


  • 2011 – BRT Station, Maraisburg, Jhb
  • 2010 – Vilakazi Street Development Project. Corner Vilakzi and Makgete Streets, Orlando West


  • Tourism Entrepreneur Partnership, Hidden Treasures, Jhb
  • So we too, collective of 7 Soweto based companies.


  • Nando’s, London, UK
  • ABSA , Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Pikit-Up, Braamfontein, South Africa
  • Exxaro, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Equity Africa, Forrest Town, South Africa
  • DBSA Debotswana, Botswana
  • South African Brewery, Sandton, South Africa
  • GEPF, Pretoria, SA