MIMI and her Art..

Lisa Nettelton

Mimi, who was born and educated in the Eastern Cape, is every bit as creative and quirky as her art suggests. Her lively personality is reflected in the diversity of her artistic expression, for not only are the articles she produces totally varied, but she adds to the eclectic impression by combining disciplines, mediums, themes ambiguity, words and contrasts. She is inspired by perceptions and cultures and the similarities and differences these reveal. Her purpose is to make people think.

Mimi’s story really began after the completion of a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design at Stellenbosch University. She made the decision to gain more practical knowledge by working in ‘normal’ graphic design jobs, conceptualising, producing material and managing the outlets. In addition, she expanded her view by volunteering for outreach programs to assist struggling communities to develop viable craft products. These experiences taught her about the day to day running of a business and the impact that art and crafts can have on the larger community. The scene was set for the next phase of Mimi’s life.

She returned to her roots in Port Alfred and began experimenting with yarns, materials, fibres and her grandmother’s Bernina sewing machine. Speaking of *free stitching she says “The technique is therapeutic and possibly even addictive as the rhythm hypnotises your mind, allowing your heart to lead you over the textures.” Mimi began creating fabric artworks which could be stretched onto frames. There was an enthusiastic response to her works and she found it difficult to keep up with the demand. She decided to train and employ a local woman to help her, and her business, Molo Mimi was born.

Under the label of Molo Mimi, Mimi has created both artwork for the home and wearable art in the form of jackets, berets, scarves and bags. Her very popular ‘threads’ (and smaller ‘mimi’s’) can be used in many different ways from framed wall art to appliqued design. All Mimi’s ‘Molo Mimi’ art is displayed in the gallery under that label.


Lisa Nettelton, the brainchild behind Molo Mimi…

Mimi also has a more serious side. As Lisa Nettelton she expresses her deep concern for the world and nature through her concept artworks, the Talking Heads. The concept for these amazing art works was born when Lisa was commissioned to complete an art work using antelope horns. After gazing at the horns for hours, Lisa became aware of the animal ‘behind’ the horns. She was saddened by the disrespect hunters had shown to the beauty and dignity of this animal by simply discarding the horns .and decided that she was going to honour them in a very special way. A magical way. She needed to make them live again and demonstrate to the world that their lives would continue to spread enchantment and awareness even in death.

Lisa tapped into her passion for taxidermy, colours and textures of material and the alchemy took form. Each Talking head is an individual and is named for the magic they channel.  

Lisa says “The horns are, for the moment, real. When and if I come to the end of the pile of discarded horns I have discovered, I may replace them with a synthetic alternative, demonstrating the moment when the hunter realised his folly. But while there are horns to be honored I will continue to use them. The heads themselves are fibre glass casts and I select the materials for each work according to the way the horns speak to me and show me the shape of the animal’s personality.”

The Talking heads are displayed in the Gallery under Lisa Nettleton: Concept Art.


Free Stitch

The technique often referred to as “free stitch” is achieved by disarming the settings on a sewing machine while using the darning stitch. The needle roams the fabric and is guided by the hand. With inventiveness and a lot of practice, fine detail becomes possible. Various materials and techniques expand the process, allowing the sewing over many threads that would otherwise get tangled. Mimi says: ”I have developed my own techniques through experimentation and parts of the process are random, especially the first layers. This randomness dictates the outcome to a large degree as I build the layers creating contrasts and movement using colour and texture.” The traditional technique of sewing has been deconstructed. Torn fabrics are randomly positioned and re-joined by the meandering stitching, symbolically echoing modern society where traditions and boundaries are torn and shredded and reinvented as something entirely different. All fabrics used are collected off-cuts, old swatch books and clothes; that would otherwise be thrown away. The fabrics are shredded using a rotor blade and can also be cut into specific shapes. Mohair, wool and other yarns incorporated are donated from people’s scraps and excess.