Wits Art Museum (WAM) is celebrating the art of beadwork through the upcoming exhibition Beadwork, Art and the Body: Dilo Tše Dintši/Abundance. The subtitle of the exhibition, Dilo Tše Dintši means “abundance” in Pedi and is a title that celebrates the abundance and richness of beadwork.

Beaded waistcoat: Artist unrecorded, Zulu, Nongoma region, KwaZulu-Natal Beaded waistcoat, Ntol’bhantshi, beads on textile, acquired in 1993. Standard Bank African Art Collection (Wits Art Museum)

Opening in July, the exhibition will showcase the dazzling range of beadwork that forms part of South African art history. “Visitors can look forward to seeing items such as Ndebele linaga (capes) and irari (beaded blankets) that date back as far as the mid-20th Century.” These beaded capes and blankets are still worn by some Ndebele-speaking married women at wedding ceremonies and after their sons have returned from the mountain,” says curator Professor Anitra Nettleton.

Focusing on South African beadwork, the exhibition includes work from the extensive WAM art collections alongside contemporary artworks.

Generous sponsorship from the National Art Council has enabled WAM to include works by artists from two beadwork co-operatives; Woza Moya (Hillcrest) and Umcebo Design (Durban).

Beads will take over a large part of the WAM space including the WAM Café, which will be filled with a beadwork installation created by artists from Umcebo Design.

A book titled Beadwork, Art and the Body: Dilo Tše Dintši/Abundance accompanies the exhibition and provides an inside look into the artistry and history behind these remarkable beaded artworks.

Events including talkabouts, panel discussions and bead-making workshops will give museum-goers the opportunity to learn about the rich history and tradition of beadwork. Keep an eye on the Wits Art Museum Facebook and Twitter pages, for up to date information about these events.

Be sure not to miss seeing the art of beadwork like you’ve never seen it before at Wits Art Museum.

Wits Art Museum is open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10h00 – 16h00

Exhibition ends 11 October 2015.