The fairy-tale quality of our headline is apt in the Bay of the Sleeping Beauty, where an artist wearing a woollen tiger as headgear for a winter’s day is being measured by a tailor who will design for her a crinoline hooped petticoat, to be covered in discarded inner tyre tubes.
Colourful embroidery on black rubber is award-winning artist Hannalie Taute’s medium: “Embroidery is my paint and the inner tube my canvas,” she explains while preparing for her upcoming exhibition, the Grimm Needle, loosely based on Grimms’ Fairy Tales, at Fried Contemporary gallery in Pretoria in September.
She has assigned costumier and tailor William Mills of Stilbaai to design the period costume she will wear.
“Usually for an exhibition I enjoy dressing up to fit the theme so that I look as if I am part of my display. The inner tubes I have embroidered for the exhibition are part of creations I have titled, for example, Sleeping Beauty Overslept, Goldilocks’s Eyes were too Big for her Stomach and Nostalgia’s Vampire.”
Using tread instead of thread does not intimidate Mills, who for many years worked as a costumier in theatre and television, also as resident tailor for the SABC’s drama department, and now outfits Stilbaai residents from the boutique, Donna Villion.
“With my background in the theatre I have had to make the most weird and wonderful things and this hooped petticoat is just more evidence of what can be done with virtually anything when two creative minds meet,” he says.
Admitting that “this is the first time I am making a dress with rubber”, he recalls creating a set of tails in cellophane for a show called The Cellophane Man.
“I lined the cellophane in black to create the impression that it was just cellophane.”
Mills says, “As soon as I have made up the skirt itself, Hendrik (Hannalie’s husband) will insert the hoops.”
Born in Fochville, Hannalie met Hendrik while both were art students at the Port Elizabeth Technikon. Today they have two boys, aged 5 and 8, and Hendrik has temporarily given up art to work as a diesel mechanic. Art by the couple’s sons 'adorns a wall in their home.
The coming exhibition is just another of many where Hannalie’s work has been displayed. She was nominated for the Fiesta award in 2012 and 2015, and in 2014 won the Kanna award for Best Visual Art Production for her exhibition, Rubber Ever After at the Klein Karoo Nationale Kunstefees in Oudtshoorn.
She attributes the imaginative titles of her work to two other interests in her life: “I like words and I like books and I play with both.”