Odette Tolksdorf

Odette Tolksdorf

Odette Tolksdorf is a Graphic Design graduate who uses layered and stitched textiles as a medium of creative expression.

In the mid 1980’s she became interested in using textiles and fibre – a group of media that bring together processes that have great appeal to her:  designing, sewing, creating physical objects by hand and working with fabrics and colour. This rich tactile world has been an absorbing and ever-changing part of Odette’s life ever since.  

Aspects of both contemporary and traditional techniques that are used in her art quilts, convey an eclectic quality to her work. She uses cotton, silk, organza and other textiles like bark cloth and linen, that are hand dyed, painted and screened or commercially printed. Both hand and machine stitching may be combined in one work.

Abstract imagery is typical of her surface design, although it’s not unusual to occasionally see some realism. The multi-layered spirit of her African environment is an enduring influence in her work. She is endlessly fascinated by the relationships and contrasts between shapes, lines, colours and textures and the formal elements of design are always an important part of her work and can even feature as a starting point for a work. 

Since 1983 Odette has participated in many juried and invited artist group exhibitions, both in South Africa and internationally in the U.S.A, Canada, U.K., New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Europe and Taipei.  She took part in all the juried Innovative Threads exhibitions.

Odette’s work has been widely published internationally and in South Africa and is included in private collections in South Africa, U.S.A, Canada and France.

Odette has taught quilt and design workshops throughout South Africa, in Swaziland, Namibia and Zimbabwe and several times in the USA, Germany and New Zealand. She is an SAQG Recommended Teacher.  Her gentle approach when teaching gives her students the freedom to explore and discover their own creativity.

She is a national accredited quilt judge, has judged at several SAQG national quilt exhibitions and has judged internationally at the World Quilt exhibition in the USA. From 2009 to 2011 Odette was a tutor for the Art and Design Theory and Art History section of the SAQG Quilt Judging Accreditation Course. This involved composing the papers and marking and reviewing assignments.

Since 2001 Odette has been appointed annually as the coordinator for South Africa, of the World Quilt Competition in the USA.

In 1995 Odette conceived the idea for and helped to coordinate assembly of The Peace Quilt, consisting of almost 800 blocks received from 29 countries and made into 27 quilts. The Peace Quilt was first exhibited in July 1996 at the Seasons Quilt Festival at Durban City Hall, then travelled throughout South Africa and to the Houston International Quilt Festival. Exhibitions in the UK and Austria were sponsored by the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

The Peace Quilt is now permanently displayed in the concourse of the International Convention Centre in Durban and is enjoyed by people from all over the world.

Odette served on the committees of:  Quilt Indaba, a biennial quilting retreat in the Drakensberg, from its beginning in 1992 and for many years afterwards;  Stars for Africa Quilt Festival in Durban –  responsible for organising classes, teachers and timetables;  Chairlady of Grassroots Quilters Guild.

She was a founder member of Grassroots Quilters Guild in Durban and Natal Quilters Guild (now KZN Quilters Guild) and Fibreworks (national textile and fibre group). 

In 2007 Odette received Lifetime Honorary Membership of the KZN Quilters Guild and in 2005 she received the Grassroots Guild Chairlady’s Award (Pauline Law).

In 2008 Odette received the Pro Dedicate award from the South African Quilters Guild:  “Award for outstanding service. In recognition of her dedication to the promotion of the art of quilt making in South Africa since 1987. We pay tribute to this South African quilter for her vision of promoting our textile artists beyond our borders and lifting textile art to a professional level.”  (Elsa Brits, President, South African Quilters Guild).


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