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Billie Zangewa

Born in 1973 in Blantyre, Malawi, Billie Zangewa spent her childhood in Botswana. From a very young age, she is passionate about sewing and dream to lead a career as an artist. She studied drawing and printmaking at Rhodes University, South Africa. From there, Billie creates a small series of embroidered silk handbags. " I wanted to take my work off the wall and into everyday life. For me, the handbag is a piece of interactive moving sculpture. It is also utilitarian and not elitist. Although if its a designer handbag, it is. Its about the interaction." Billie tells us that, at some point, the handbag could also be a weapon against women's aggression in the street. «You could hit someone over the head or wherever with it. Especially if you have heavy objects inside!». She thought about this when she first moved to Johannesburg and was faced with high levels of crime. Billie starts off with an emotion and that somehow translates itself into an image. Her pieces are generally preceded with preparatory work consisting in a draw that became her model to cut silk. The fabricis then cut, assembled and sewn in a manner that leaves appearing threads and stitches." When I told a friend who only knew me in the fashion retail context that I wanted to revive my art career, he asked me what my art would be about. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the only thing that I really knew about was myself. At the same time, I saw that the female story from the female perspective was not really being told frequently enough and there were so many things that needed to be discussed that remained taboo or untold.» For inspiration, Billie also like to look into other creative types: fashion, literature and music. Among the artists who inspire Billie: designers Issey Miyake, Dries Van Noten and Rei Kawakubo (creator of the brand « Comme des Garçons »), painter and writer Yayoi Kusama, writers Dambudzo Marechera and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, singers Busi Mhlongo and Brenda Fassie. Billie Zangewa is very present in Europe (Imane Fares Gallery, André Magnin gallery). She also sets out in South Africa, where she is represented for many years by the gallery owner Henri Vergon (Afronova gallery). " I am always humbled. One shouldn't take things for granted." Billie had a child two years ago and things really changed for her in general, that is why she is not doing many shows in a year. The greatest wish of Billie? "A retrospective! To see my work over the years in one room would be amazing.»
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