Tamar Mason

south african sculpture, african clay figures, south african art

Tamar Mason was born in Johannesburg in 1966. Mason matriculated from Woodmead High School and went on to drop out of Wits University, completing her academic career writing her final BA exams (Unisa) in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana under the careful eye of a dominee.

Mason’s primary schooling was at The Waldorf School in Johannesburg where she was taught woodwork, sewing and art in abundance. In grade two her class planted a vegetable patch and made butter by hand and baked bread in a wood oven. This set the course. After six miserable months of full time University she taught art at St Marks College in Jane Furse. This was followed by a year in Italy studying art and jewellery design.

In 1988 Mason set out to work in rural areas with women, focusing on crafts and business skills, moving to Botswana where she lived in Mochudi for three years followed by a year at The Kuru Art Project in D’kar. She returned to South Africa in 1992 and spent the next ten years working with community projects all over South Africa and Namibia, tending to a tiny veggie patch in Bez Valley when time allowed.

In 1996 she set up her own ceramic studio at The Bag Factory Artists Studios and started to exhibit her work in group shows and to work on commissions. Primary school stitching skills were resuscitated with being asked to be a part of the team that put together a 35 x 3.2m high fabric panel for the Mpumalanga Legislature. From this developed Mason’s work on fabric which dominates most of the artwork that she currently produces (fabric is easier than clay to drag around to meetings, school sporting events etc).

In 1997 she gave birth to Simon and in 2000 to Maru. Their arrival was the trigger that led to Mason and her partner Mark Attwood leaving Johannesburg in favour of a beautiful valley outside of White River in Mpumalanga in 2003. Here they set up The Artists’ Press in a purpose built studio and set about planting a food forest.

Mason assists Attwood in the running of The Artists’ Press, focusing on marketing and this website.

Tamar Mason sculpture

Tamar Mason architectural commission

Who are we? Mark Attwood

Who are we? Jacky Tsila

New Editions from The Artists' Press

tamar mason, woman embroiderers, stitching artists

Title: Grace Unathi
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 88 x 215cm
Price: R 25 000


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Detail: Grace Unathi (hand holding egg)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

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Detail: Grace Unathi (Barberton Valley)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

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Title: Detachment
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 88 x 214cm
Price: SOLD

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Detail: Detachment (Spiral Galaxy)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

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Title: My mtDNA (LOa1b)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 80 x 214cm
Price: SOLD

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Detail: My mtDNA LOa1b(new leaves)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

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Title: Portrait of Hanneke Benadé
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 103 x 115cm
Price: Commission

contemporary south african art, embroidered tapestry, african beadwork and embroidery

Detail: Hanneke Benadé portrait

south african art, south african embroidery, emroidered and beaded tapestry

Title: South African landscape (unstretched)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 2 x 1.5m
Price: Commission

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Detail: South African landscape

torigins centre fabric panels, origins centre art work, south african art

Detail: South African landscape

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Title: Western Cape landscape (unstretched)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 2.3 x 2.5m
Price: Commission

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Detail: Western Cape landscape

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Detail: Western Cape landscape

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Title: Bokamoso Patience
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 88 x 214cm
Price: R 25 000

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Detail: Bokamoso Patience
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

Tamar Mason, south african art on fabric, south african embroidery

Title: Simon Seretse
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 80 x 214cm
Price: NFS

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Detail: Simon Seretse
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

south african art, south african women artists, embrodered panels

Title: Maru Francis
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 80 x 214cm
Price: NFS

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Detail: Maru Francis
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric

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Title: Origins.(AIDS advocacy project, Artist Proof Studio, unstretched)
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 105 x 210cm
Price: Commission

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Detail: Origins

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Detail: Origins

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Title: Graham Beck Winery, Franschoek
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 6 x 2.5m
Price: Commission

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Detail: Graham Beck Winery, Franschoek

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Detail: Graham Beck Winery, Franschoek

origins centre embroidery, the origins centre artwork

The Kosikona women at the press launch of The Origins Centre, University of the Witwatersrand. The women were technical assistants on the panels
Tamar Mason was commissioned to design and make eleven panels (each 4.5 x 2m)depicting the history of the San, using rock art and contemporary San art references.

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Image from The Origins Centre website showing the placing of the panels in the room. Apologies for the poor quality of these images, lighting for good photography is difficult in the room.

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The second panel "Traditional Life"
Medium: Embroidery and beadwork on fabric
Size: 4.5 x 2m (each panel, total of 11)
Price: Commission

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Panel 1

origins centre tapestry room, origins centre embroidery work

Panels 6 - 10

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Panel 11

mpumalanga legislature artwork, embroidery and beadwork panels, south african art

Mpumalanga Legislature Assembly Chamber interior. This work was commissioned by Meyer Pienaar Architects in 1998. Tamar Mason was one of the principal designers and technical skills trainer for the sixty rural women who put the work together. The panels tell the story of the history of the Mpumalanga province and measure 35m long by 3.5m high. They are worked onto a base of worsted fabric with beads, wire work, applique and embroidery.

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The first three panels (first signs of life, fauna, stone age, iron age)

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Panels 5 to 7 (Mfecane, Maputo, trading, arrival of the Boers)

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Panels 9-11 (Botshabelo, Emanzana, Pilgrims Rest gold)

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Panels 14-16 (Rinderpest/AIDS, big five, Swazi culture, citrus, trade)

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Panels 17-19 (Boer guerilla fighters, concentration camps, commercial farming, unions, township v suburban life)

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Panel 22-24 (political rallies, 1994 elections, freedom celebrations, Mbuzini Machel monument)